ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) – The Rock Island High School pool has been closed for about a year, in part due to paint chips falling off the ceiling.
Since the pool’s closing, there has been a decline in the number of kids involved in Rock Island’s swimming program. Rock Island swim coach Dave Busch said there are many reasons behind that, Including transportation.
“Before we had anywhere from 17 to 24 kids. We have about 10 kids now. We lost some kids because they want to work, and some of them work later at night, so it wasn’t going to work out for them,” Busch said.
Rock Island now practices off-campus at Augustana College from 7:15 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
“In September we can only come in here twice a week for the whole month,” Busch said. “So instead of getting 6-8 water workouts a week, we got two. [It’s] not a very good time to practice for these kids. We want them to be high school kids, so they can enjoy high school activities, but when we can’t practice after school, it limits what these kids can do.”
At the Rock Island School Board meeting on Nov. 22, more than 10 elected officials, concerned parents, and community members voiced their opinions about the need for pool repairs, saying that a local pool will help teach water safety.
Jason Roessler, president of the Rock Island Orcas swim team, Rock Island swimming’s feeder program, said numbers have dropped because of the closed pool.
“We were going strong. Unfortunately, with everything that happened, the ceiling falling in and stuff, we just lost numbers. Now everyone is swimming at other clubs,” Roessler said. “They’ve all left Rock Island because there is no place for us to practice. Kids in Rock Island need to learn how to swim. We live between the two rivers, there are drowning deaths every year because people don’t know how to swim.”
Coach Busch said a finished pool could bring more community events to the high school.
“The pool is part of the school. They need to get it back into the school curriculum,” Busch said. “For most of every school, if you have a pool, it is in their [physical education] curriculum. Some kids learn how to swim then.”
The school board has requested that the Rock Island High School pool be discussed further at the next meeting.
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