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High school swim teams have no pools to practice in this season


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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Monday marked the start of swim season for Portland high schoolers but there’s one major problem, the teams have no pools to practice in.

“We are a swim team that doesn’t have any water to swim in right now,” Grant Swim Coach Scott Miyako said.

He and parents have been pushing for some sort of option to get the kids pool time so they’ll be able to both practice and compete this season as part of the Portland Interscholastic League (PIL).

They say it’s tough to watch Portland teams in other sports be able to play as well as swim teams from other districts.

But in Portland, the teams use Portland Parks and Recreation pools and lifeguards. In a joint statement from PP&R and City Commissioner Carmen Rubio to FOX 12, they explain that pools are still closed and will re-open to some extent starting June 22. Plus after more than 750 PP&R staff were laid off last year, including lifeguards, they aren’t done hiring and training hundreds of workers for this summer. Without the lifeguards, they say the pools aren’t ready to be used.

“I’m heartbroken for the kids,” Coach Miyako said.

“It has been quite the year, I can tell you that it’s just one thing after another,” Senior on the Grant team Fallon DeWitt said.

She’s one of about 250 PIL swimmers.

“I’m really lucky I get to go on and swim in college but I know a lot of my teammates who’ve been swimming their whole lives and they aren’t getting this last year of swimming and they aren’t continuing this sport and they love this sport so much,” she said.

Coach Miyako said the district is still looking at options but it will be tough.

“At this point would be difficult to get this many swimmers in the water especially this late in the game,” he said.

Here is the full statement from Portland Parks and Recreation and Commissioner Rubio:

“Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) had extensive conversations with Portland Public Schools (PPS) and the PIL about the upcoming swim season (this year it is in May and June). PPS swim teams have typically used PP&R pools, staffed by PP&R lifeguards, for their practices.

We’ve worked hard and collaboratively with PPS to try to find a way to accommodate swim teams this year, but as much as we want to, we are unable to do so at this time.

Due to COVID-19, all PP&R pools and community centers closed in March 2020 and over 750 PP&R staff were laid off, including lifeguards. Thanks to Portland voters passing the Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy) in November 2020, Portland’s public pools will open for limited programming starting on June 22.

Traditionally, levy funds would not become available for one year. For the Parks Levy, that would be November 2021. Because the Parks Levy promised to restore summer programming in 2021, City Council approved a proposal in February that allowed PP&R to receive a loan on some of those funds to restore limited parks services and activities for this summer.

Preparing for the summer programming that begins every year in late June takes a lot of coordination. PP&R is hiring and training hundreds of workers for summer, but this effort is far from complete. PP&R’s highest priority is the safety of pool users – and without these newly trained lifeguards the pools are not ready to be used.

We know many people are disappointed and PP&R shares those feelings. All of us with the City look forward to when we can accommodate swim teams again.”

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