Blenheim’s Pool Open To Employees…Just Not To The Public Or Competitive Swimmers

Blenheim Gable Rees Pool
Blenheim’s Gable Rees Pool

Frustration among Chatham-Kent’s swimming community continues to grow.

That frustration grew deeper after it was learned that Chatham-Kent Municipal lifeguards have been able to use Blenheim’s Gable Rees Pool, while local officials continue to state it is unsafe for competitive and lane swimmers to access pools.

In an email obtained by CKSN, it was stated that the Municipality is allowing lifeguards to swim on Tuesday and Thursday’s from 4-8pm at Blenheim’s Gable Rees Pool. Lifeguards have had access to the pool since August 6.

According to the email, lifeguards are using the pool to ‘get back into shape,’ which is the same reasoning competitive swimmers have for wanting to get back into the water.

The Chatham Y Pools Sharks have been petitioning the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, with return to swim plans in place, which include smaller groups and physical distancing via lanes, but were told as recently as one week prior to Blenheim’s pool reopening to staff, that Municipal pools would not be reopening in the near future.

“In terms of municipal pool operation, please be advised that they will not be reopening in the near future. Dr. Colby has chosen to keep them closed due to the physical distancing and congregation challenges they present, which increases risk of COVID-19 transmission,” a CK Public Health staff member wrote to the Chatham Pool Sharks on July 31 on behalf of Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “Dr. Colby’s order for pool closure pertains only to municipal pools.”

Despite this assertion, the Municipality did in fact open a pool only 7 days after this message.

The Pool Sharks have stated multiple times in writing to the Municipality, and explained the difference between competitive swim training, and recreational swimming, which does not have the structure and lane separation of competitive swimming, nor the mandate for safety plans from governing bodies including Swim Ontario and Swimming Canada.

Currently, many Chatham Pool Sharks members are travelling to Essex to train multiple days each week, while other Pool Sharks families have contacted clubs in London and Windsor to move to if local pools are not opened to competitive swimmers in the immediate future.

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