Jim Baxter, president of the Haney Neptunes, says the local swim clubs have been hit hard by losing their home pool for two years. (THE NEWS files)

Jim Baxter, president of the Haney Neptunes, says the local swim clubs have been hit hard by losing their home pool for two years. (THE NEWS files)

UPDATED: Maple Ridge’s swim clubs ‘decimated’ by pool closure

City working to ensure that all recreation facilities will meet needs for 2020 BC Summer Games.

The Haney Neptunes and Seahorses can’t wait for the re-opening of the renovated Maple Ridge Leisure Centre, announced for Feb. 3.

At least, what’s left of the local swim clubs.

Prior to the pool closure, the Seahorses had 130 swimmers.

Almost two years later, the club is now down to 15, said club president Karen Firth.

Members used to swim 11 months a year, six days a week.

The Neptunes, a summer club, formerly had more than 100 athletes, and now have fewer than 60, said president Jim Baxter.

The Neptunes competitive swimming team remains intact, but the water polo and synchronized swimming programs could not be sustained through the closure.

Those programs will be rebuilt from scratch, he said.

The Seahorses believe the renovations made a too-small pool even worse as a competition pool.

As recreation pools have widened, there is less deck space.

Firth isn’t confident the club will be able to hold a meet there, she said.

She doubts it will have enough deck space to be able to accommodate the BC Summer Games.

“The city has been working closely with the local and provincial BC Summer Games team to ensure that all city recreation facilities will meet the needs for the competitions at the end of July 2020,” said Fred Armstrong, with the City of Maple Ridge.

He added that the city toured the facility in October with Swim BC representatives.

“The city will be working closely with Swim BC once the facility is reopened to ensure that the needs of the athletes are fully addressed for the three days of competition,” Armstrong said of the 2020 Games.

Baxter is still pleased to be getting the pool back.

He gave city hall credit for helping his club find pool time in Port Coquitlam, so it didn’t have to completely shut down for the two years.

Firth’s virtually year-round club had a difficult time during the closure.

In the first year, members swam at pools in five neighbouring communities.

But the delay in opening made it impossible to plan.

Pool time had already been allocated.

Since September, Firth said, kids have been getting up at 4:20 a.m. to drive to pools in Surrey to train at 5:30 a.m. – the only time they could get.

The kids eat breakfast and do homework in their vehicles.

Firth thinks it will take at least two years to build the club back up.

“Families who have gone to other clubs will now have connections and relationships.”

The Maple Ridge facility closed on March 26, 2018.

On Tuesday, the city reported the construction phase is nearing completion.

The final phases will include commissioning – the testing of all systems, to ensure the new areas of the building perform as intended.

That will begin on Jan. 3 and will be followed by training for staff, including lifeguards and slide attendants.

The renovated facility has a new layout and procedures that staff will be trained on to ensure safe operation, said the city.

The renos were originally scheduled to take one year, and cost $9 million.

However, in early July, the city announced it had found corroded support pillars that needed replacing, causing delays and the cost of the project to rise to an estimated $12.4 million.

The city needs another pool, say the swim clubs.

Once their clubs are built back up, the renovated pool will be too small to meet demand, Baxter said.

He said a new competition pool would allow not only the clubs to expand, but all of the city’s aquatic programs.


 

@NeilCorbett18
ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Maple Ridge city hall (The News files)
Maple Ridge turns to public for consultation on transportation plan

Mayor encourages all residents to participate in ‘important engagement process’

Ethan Page, left, and Nicky Walton received Excellence in Arts Scholarship Awards in music. (Special to The News)
Port Haney Artist-in-Residence Aaron Moran. (Special to the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows News)
Personal reflections of Maple Ridge are needed for new public art project

Residents of all ages, backgrounds and abilities welcome to share stories and poems

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Maple Ridge elementary school exposed to COVID-19

Exposure event at Glenwood elementary the seventh in past two weeks

Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or in writing.
LETTER: Upset by being called an ‘idiot’

Maple Ridge writer disagrees with majority on COVID safety protocols and their impacts

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

Linda Annis, executive director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers, at press conference Monday. (Submitted photo)
Crime Stoppers receiving $200K from province for ‘Guns and Gangs’ tip line campaign

Executive director Linda Annis broke the news Monday morning in Surrey

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read