By Mark Nelson Herald Writer
The swimming and diving program at Stanwood High School got a breath of fresh air this summer when Marysville-Pilchuck High School and the Marysville YMCA stepped up to assist the Spartans, who lost their home pool last April.
But a one-year reprieve from any major headaches is all that head coach Rita Brennan can bank on right now as the 2010 girls swimming season kicks off.
The only regulation-size pool in Stanwood, at the Stanwood Sports Club, closed in April because of issues with the pump and ventilation system that would have cost upward of $200,000 to fix, Brennan said.
When discussions between the club’s owner and the Stanwood-Camano School District failed to come to a mutually-beneficial solution, school district superintendent Dr. Jean Shumate took the lead in securing a place for the Spartans to swim this season.
After a near-agreement with the Everett Naval Station fell through, the Marysville YMCA opened its pool to Brennan and her swimmers.
“They haven’t rented a pool to a team before so this is a new endeavor (for the club), so i think it has been overwhelming for them on some parts, but they got us into an afternoon schedule,” Brennan said, referencing the importance of afternoon practices because of long travel times for swimmers. “They’ve gone above and beyond. We’re very thankful.”
Stanwood couldn’t use the YMCA pool until after Labor Day due to cleaning and that’s when Marysville-Pilchuck High School extended a helping hand.
Pool manager Mark Verbon and MPHS head coach Jaci LeGore-Hodgins worked out a deal that allowed the Spartans to use the facility, sometimes in early morning or late night — but always to the benefit of Stanwood’s swimmers.
“It really served them well,” LeGore-Hodgins said. “They deserved it, their team is significantly larger than ours.”
The Stanwood-Camano School District provided funds for transportation this season, but things get a little cloudy for the team after this year.
Right now, however, Brennan and the Spartans are trying to make the best of a tough situation.
“We can’t have any home meets and we can’t dive at the YMCA … we’re going to have to come up with something else later in the season (as districts near),” Brennan said of the absence of starting blocks at the Marysville YMCA.
“Not having blocks is a big deal, not having a team was a bigger deal.”
The city of Stanwood is exploring the possibility of bringing a YMCA to the area. A market researcher earlier this week started phoning area residents to gauge support for a possible YMCA facility. The results are expected to be shared with the community in November.
The future existence of the Stanwood swimming program could hinge on whether or not the YMCA places a facility in the area.
“If the Y is going to come in, if we have that timeline settled, then both the boys and girls teams would fundraise the cost of transportation (for the next seasons),” Brennan said. “If the YMCA is going to come in and there is a pool somewhere down the line in the future, then we’re going to keep these programs alive. If there is no YMCA, then we have a real problem and I think our boys and girls programs are in danger of not having a team.”
The Spartans aren’t the only vagabond swimming team this season as several pools including the Lynnwood Pool and Mill Creek aquatic center pool are closed for renovations and repairs.
Edmonds-Woodway has been practicing at Klahaya pool in Edmonds and will begin sharing the Mountlake Terrace High School pool with the Hawks after Sept. 18. Meadowdale has been swimming at Olympic View Middle School.
“In addition to juggling four teams at two pools, when all the teams do not have meets on Tuesdays or Thursdays, then all teams are at Mountlake Terrace’s pool,” E-W head coach Kate Trettevik said. “We solve this by having two teams practice the first hour and two teams practice the second hour, then do dry-land training when they are not in the water. To complicate matters on days when there is not school and there is a special schedule at the pools often we have 2-3 lanes for an hour for the teams to all squeeze into.”
With 18 Wesco teams sharing nearly seven pools, scheduling practice and meets for at least the next two years needs to be creative.
“We’re seeing a real decline in pools in our local communities,” Brennan said. “This is a trend that can’t continue.”