Swimmers kicking mad
By Brielle Schaeffer, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Date: July 16, 2012
Early-morning lap swimmers dove into the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Board meeting Thursday, upset with the agency for trying to give coveted morning pool hours to school district swim teams.
“It’s been really unsettling that no one in the community has been asked to give input on this change,” swimmer Kathy Johnson said.
The Teton County School District No. 1 Board of Education voted in May to delay start and end times for high school and middle school students beginning this fall. The schedule change affects school athletics practice times as well as community use of district fields.
Steve Ashworth, parks and recreation director, said the current pool use agreement the town and county has with the school district says the district gets exclusive use from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
“With the school changes, they’re working to propose different times,” Ashworth said.
Last fall, high school and middle school students used the pool mainly in the afternoon. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the high school swim team swam in the early morning but shared the pool with adult lap swimmers.
The proposed pool schedule would give high school students the lap pool 6 to 8 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays from August to late October. Starting in late October, the middle school swim team would hold its weekday practices 6:30 to 8 a.m. until early December.
Some lap swimmers received a letter June 22 from Recreation Superintendent Jill Russell about the change.
At Thursday’s meeting, Johnson offered the parks and rec board suggestions such as splitting lanes in the morning for students and adults. Or the rec center could open two hours early on weekends for student swim practice, she said.
Opening at 5 a.m. for lap swimmers before high school swim practice was not feasible, Johnson said.
“To me, that’s not morning, that’s night,” she said.
Ruth Morey, a lap swimmer and former parks and rec board member, expressed her frustration with the limited pool availability.
“This is a difficult issue, and it’s a larger issue than this particular day or season,” she said. “It’s a community pool. There should be a school pool. There should be swimming lessons for kids. There should be absolutely men’s and women’s swim teams. They should be able to swim and practice to their full potential.”
The parks and rec board said it would draft a letter to the school board urging it to negotiate or compromise on pool hours. The board also asked lap swimmers to comment at the school board’s July 18 meeting.
“We’re not trying to exclude anybody from using the pool,” Russell said. “We’re just trying to come up with the best answer to accommodate people at the best times.”