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Posted: January 26, 2022

Kimberley Sea Horse Swim Club at the mercy of the city

Letter to the Editor

We are writing this letter as concerned parents in hopes of the City of Kimberley working with the Kimberley Sea Horse Swim Club to get adequate training time to be able to continue on offering the chosen sport for many of the Kimberley youth.

The effects on children’s mental health and wellness in regard to the Kimberley Aquatic Centre not being able to support the children with adequate pool time to continue on with their training that they have worked so hard for in a sport they love.

We first got involved with the Kimberley Sea Horse swim club in 2013 when our children joined as novice swimmers, and have trained and worked their way up to competing at a provincial level by 2019. Typical summers consisted of our club travelling throughout southern B.C. competing in swim meets in Nelson, Trail, Castlegar, Creston, Grand Forks, and Colville Washington.

Every summer we held our own swim meet, and when you look at where the other clubs in our region are from, you can see that every meet that Kimberley go to, we have to travel overnight with the exception of Creston.

So with that said as well, when Kimberley would hold its meet in July, we typically brought in over 200 out of town competing swimmers as well as their families. Four hundred people would travel to Kimberley for the Seahorse meet. All the clubs would look forward to the Kimberley meet, they loved the local vibe, the local condos and accommodation’s, local camping, and Platzl shopping and dining.

Some families would incorporate the Kimberley meet into their summer holiday plans and stay and enjoy the local amenities. The club paid the aquatic centre on average $6,000 for the use of the pool for that weekend. Throughout the year the Seahorses would pay on average $15,000 per year for lane rental to train. The Seahorses have purchased themselves the diving blocks in the pool for $8,000, which the diving block were installed April 2020, which we have not been able to utilize since we purchased them.

Summer swim season runs from May – mid August. The club generally was allotted nine hours per week of lane time distributed throughout four days. During winter maintenance, which runs from October – March, the club was generally allotted two hours per week of lane time distributed throughout two days.

Prior to current reduced pool time, the club has had up to 80 children swimming in the summer season, with up to 30 in winter maintenance, and we were able to offer a novice program with up to 20 novice swimmers, and often there is a waiting list for novice. We currently are not able to offer a novice program, as we cannot get enough adequate training time for our regular swimmers in the club.

We have had lots of interest from new swim families that are enquiring to enrol their children in the novice program and winter maintenance, but due to lack of pool time, and with younger swimmers not having the skills to lane swim due to not being able to offer a novice program, we have not been able accept new registers.

Once Covid restrictions came into effect in March 2020 the swim club was forced to halt training. The pool was closed to the Kimberley Sea Horses until July 2021, which it was then reduced two days per week with one hour session, for only five weeks, then it got dropped to one day per week with a one-hour session in October 2021, which is still our current allotted time.

We have requested numerous times to the aquatic centre for more pool time, and have been declined each time.

In order to run our club, we absolutely need adequate pool time. We have lost children in the club due to the swimmers not getting adequate training time to continue on as a competitive swimmer. It has been depressing to our children for them to not be able to swim and train with their friends. The friendships that our children developed with their teammates, as well with the friendships they developed with children with the competing clubs has been lost.

Some of children have chosen to join the Cranbrook Tritons swim club as a way to continue training. We would like to know why the Cranbrook pool can operate, and work with the Cranbrook Tritons to give them adequate pool time, but the City of Kimberley has only given us every excuse, from staff shortages, Covid restrictions, and reduced operating hours.

We would like to make note that throughout the years, and currently still, that a large portion of the aquatic centre lifeguards were long time, and some still are Kimberley Seahorse members.

As concerned parents, without a current group of youth swimmers, we also question, will the aquatic centre have a more serious staff shortage in the next few years to come if we lose more of our current up and coming youth swimmers due to the loss of the swim club.

To put into perspective, our swim region consists of seven other clubs. All the other clubs have had regular pool time given back to them well over one year ago in order for them to continue on with their training as needed.

BCSSA (British Columbia Summer Swim Association) is very optimistic that there will be a summer 2022 competition season, and we as a parents are requesting adequate pool time like the club has had in the past in order for our children to continue on swimming, competing, and representing our town of Kimberley.

The Kimberley Seahorses has been put in a situation, as we have had lack of answers from the aquatic centre. We have new parents enquiring about registration, we are not able to even give them an answer if their children will be able to join the swim club, basically due to not even knowing if we are going to be able to continue on with a swim club due to inadequate pool time.

As a club, we believe that if the Kimberley Sea Horses does not get its previous allotted pool time that we will not be able to operate as a club, which will be a huge loss to the current children in the Seahorses, as well as the new children and family’s wanting to join.

We truly believe that the future of the Kimberley Sea Horse Swim Club is at the mercy of the City of Kimberley, and that if the city of Kimberley is not willing to accommodate the requested lane time that the era of the Kimberley swim club will come to an end.

It is sad as the Kimberley Sea Horses have operated for 60 years with thousands of Kimberley youth enrolled through the past.

We are requesting adequate lane time like we have had in the past, and if the City of Kimberley is not willing to provide adequate lane time in order to keep our club operating, we are requesting to know the reason why.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Joe & Shelly Stopanski,

Kimberley


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