Pool Closures Threaten Success Of Local Competitive Swimmers

Athletes are beginning to train across Canada as COVID-19 restrictions lift, but some athletes will not be able to train in Chatham-Kent, including competitive swimmers due to continued pool closures.

With Olympic Trials still to come, some of Chatham-Kent’s top swimmers may find themselves at a disadvantage as other swimmers begin training, while local pools remain closed.

“There are pockets and Municipality’s that are willing to work with swim clubs,” said Chatham Pool Sharks coach Brian Lindsay, who is disappointed his top tier swimmers are unable to get in the pool.

“I am very concerned that some kids will not get an opportunity to realize their dreams or even just to enjoy the journey in the quest to try to achieve what their dream is in Chatham-Kent.”

Lindsay notes that there is a big difference between allowing recreational swimming, and use of pools for competitive training, where lanes and National and Provincial Return To Swimming guidelines can be strictly enforced.

Lindsay is also frustrated with the willingness of certain areas to accommodate other athletes, but not top tier swimmers.

“They’ve opened arenas in places for pro hockey players, but there are world record holder swimmers who still can’t get into a pool. It is setting precedent in one sport, but not doing it for another. I think that’s where the frustration sits. It’s the inconsistency.”

The Chatham Pools Sharks have produced elite swimmers recently including Madison Broad, Genevieve Sasseville, and Quinn Matteis who have all competed on the International stage. Up and comers including Hannah Thompson and Cameron Schinkelshoek may also be forced out of town for training.

“Our kids are going to be behind,” said Lindsay. 

“Even if they could open one pool, just for us, we could get in and utilize the procedures approved by Swim Canada, and we can present these to the Chatham-Kent’s Public Health.”

Lindsay hopes his swimmers can be part of the solution for Chatham-Kent, demonstrating how change room and lane protocols can be used to help the Municipality safely re-open pools in the coming months.

“We can be the test group to prove we can keep people safe in a pool. Public Health can see that the procedures work, so they have a proven plan to re-open in September.”

Lindsay believes there will be kids who won’t return to sport, and wonders if the Municipality is considering the long term health, and mental health impacts on youth, but for now, he just wants to see his top swimmers get back into the pool to work toward their dreams.

“We want to get our top kids in the pool. The priority is to have the elite level swimmers get in the pool.”

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