Campbell River’s Yana Jacobs races to victory during the Campbell River Salmon Kings annual swim meet last year. The Salmon Kings are asking the city to open Centennial Pool early next year so that the club can stay competitive.

Salmon Kings want pool open earlier

Swim club appealing to the city to open Centennial Pool earlier than usual next year so they can stay competitive

The Campbell River Salmon Kings are appealing to the city to open Centennial Pool earlier than usual next year so that the swim club can stay competitive.

The outdoor pool typically does not open until late May or early to mid-June and Tim Defert, president of the Salmon Kings, said the uncertainty around the club’s start up is stressful for the athletes, families, coaches and executive.

“Each May we are forced to accept limited and inconvenient swim lane times at Strathcona Gardens,” Defert wrote in a letter to city council. “We believe that this puts our club at a distinct disadvantage as we are unable to have consistent practice times at the start of our season and we aren’t able to establish our club atmosphere at Strathcona Gardens.”

Defert added that May is one of the busiest times at Strathcona Gardens and it can be difficult to book lane times. He said that it’s not out of the question for new groups or clubs to have to wait “years for slots to open up.”

If the city were to open Centennial Pool in early May, Defert said, it would not only help the Salmon Kings but also the Strathcona Triathlon Club, School District 72, and the Campbell River Killer Whales swim club.

Defert said the proposal is not unrealistic.

“With an average high temperature in May of 17 C and a low of 6 C, based on climate data from the Campbell River Airport, we believe that temperature should not be a barrier to opening Centennial Pool in May,” Defert wrote. “Many private, resort and civic outdoor pools in the province are open in late April to early May.”

Opening the pool early, however, would likely add to the city’s operating costs.

For the past few years, city council has dipped into its gaming funds to pay for Centennial Pool operations which were budgeted at $30,000 for the season.

Council, at last week’s Monday meeting, held off on making any decisions about Centennial Pool until its 2017 budget planning sessions, which are scheduled for early December.

Defert, though, is hoping council will see it’s in several user groups’ best interest to open the outdoor pool at the beginning of May in order to “provide adequate pool usage opportunities.”

The Campbell River Salmon Kings offer youth swimming programs at Centennial Pool and have been since the facility opened in 1967. The club provides both introductory and performance programs and employs between six and eight local high school and post-secondary students (who have graduated from the Salmon Kings program) to coach the swimmers.

The club’s biggest event is its annual July swim meet when the Salmon Kings host up to 10 swim clubs from across Vancouver Island.

The event attracts, on average, 300 swimmers plus another 400 family members to Campbell River over the course of three days.