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User groups making do as closure extended

As user groups report to making due without the local pool, officials announced today that the facility won
As user groups report to making due without the local pool, officials announced today that the facility won't open again until at least June.
— image credit: Kirsten Hildebrand photo

Just as user groups report they’re making do without a pool in Nelson, the RDCK announced Thursday morning the facility would likely remain closed until June.

Nelson Reflections, the local synchronized swim club was just off a successful water show having attracted six new swimmers to the club when the pool suddenly closed last month.

Last week, coach Erin Fitchett told the Star the situation was overwhelming at first.

She worried about keeping her team happy and engaged without having a pool.

“This is something that is out of our hands. We’ve taken a negative situation and everyone involved, whether it be the pool or our club families, are working to get through it together,” she said.

To make lemonade out of lemons, so to speak, the club decided to take a look at what draws kids to sport.

“We went back to the drawing board,” she said. “Kids join sports for fitness, to have fun with their friends and to be involved in something.”

Happy to have all members hanging in there — some only having one practice in the water after the show, the club is working toward achieving these goals out of the water. Karin Palinka of Dynamite Dancers and Michelle Quinn, formerly of Glacier Gymnastics came on board as guest coaches to offer dryland training — working on flexibility, core strength and experimenting with dance moves they wouldn’t normally try in water.

Joe Chirico, general manager of community services at the Nelson and District Community Complex knows that dryland training is only going to hold clubs for so long. But, aside from keeping communication going, there isn’t much that can be done with the pool out of commission.

“What we’re trying to do is just keep them informed so they know how this will affect their seasons,” he said.

Chirico says that the Castlegar said Complex is working to assist groups coming from Nelson that helps in the interim.

“But their first priority, of course, are the clubs that are based there,” he said.

Denise Uhrynuk is a triathlete who planned to continue her training in Castlegar with a group of about 15 masters who are coordinating the drive together.

“I have yet to make it work. With work and coaching cross country skiing and family, I can’t seem to fit in the extra time it takes to drive there,” she said.

Because pool access is restricted, she’s switched to a sprint triathlon event rather than Olympic distance that includes swimming 750 metres rather than 1,500 metres.

“It’s much easier to get up to speed in that distance when training time is limited,” she explained.

Chris Wright of the Kootenay Swim Club said their swimmers are using the Castlegar pool as well. However, some of his team have dropped out finding the commute difficult. This affects the fees paid by the rest of the team.

“Our budget is forecasted on total membership at the beginning of the season [September to June], and so the withdrawal of their memberships has passed down the costs onto the remaining members,” he said.

Just as the pool shut down, swimmers were gearing up for the AA provincial championships that will be held in Surrey.

“This threw a bit of a challenge into their regular workout regimen as practices had to be cancelled the week before the competition,” he said.

The remaining AAA provincial swimmers still face this challenge with their competition coming up at the end of the month in Victoria.

Doing their best as a team — coaches and swimmers, to recuperate the season, Wright hopes the pool is operational soon.

“We hope that the repairs to the NDCC can be expedited but not at the expense of another possible shutdown,” he said. “We are trying our best to deal with this adversity as a team and overcome this temporary setback.”

Chirico is relieved that user groups are handling the pool closure with class.

“There’s always that initial shock when something happens, but they’re being good about helping us work through these things,” he said. “They understand that the most important thing is safety.”

Currently, Peak Environmental is wrapping up hazard assessments at NDCC. Ceiling tiles in aquatic and fitness centres were tested and none contain asbestos. But the paint on the trusses above the ceiling tiles contains lead.

“That will complicate the work that we need to do,” he said.

After a complete report from Peak, the ceiling will be removed by March 31.

A request for proposal to select an architect for the project is out. Any fix is integral to the design of the facility with lighting and acoustics considered as the new pool ceiling goes up.

“We are hiring the expertise so that the work is a benefit for the facility for the next 30 years,” says Chirico.

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