Pool’s closing stymies season

The condition of the swimming pools at OPRF has again raised concern this February, and recently, the boys pool has caused controversy.

In 2016, a $44.6 million referendum was proposed to upgrade the pool as well as other facility upgrades. It was put to a vote on election day and by just 28 votes, the referendum was voted against.

This February, the boys pool suffered a structural issue and has been out of operation since. However, this is not the same pool that was attempted to be renovated.

The engineer reported the deck on one side of the west pool was failing and that a “structural failure on the deck could cause a structural failure of the pool wall as well.”

Both pools at OPRF were built in 1928.

“The pool is well beyond its years,” said Athletic Director Nicole Ebsen.

The pool became unusable the week before water polo season started and it has had big problems for everyone who uses it. Water polo and synchronized swimming share the space, as well as the park district needing pool space until the public pools open on May 22.

“We are down to one pool with four levels of water polo,” said Ebsen. “We are used to the boys program and the girls program each having their own pool. As you can imagine two pools with four levels is obviously much more amenable to practice after school and having games at regular times.”

The boys pool being out of operation at the start of water polo season has had some serious effects on the scheduling of the teams from freshman to varsity.

“We now share practice times with junior varsity, and this means instead of 16 boys being in the pool, we have 32 at one time, which hurts our ability to practice as we usually are able to,” said junior Brad Huseby.

“Our schedule has been completely altered. We usually don’t start practice until 5:30 at night and then instead of our three-hour practices, we come in early Tuesday and Thursday to make the time up,” he said.

“I think we often forget that the pool is not only used after school by athletics. This is also affecting PE and a teaching space,” Ebsen said.

“It’s creating some undue burdens on the people who use it,” she added.

McCluskey Engineering Corporation reported that the school plans to replace both the boys and girls pools within the next two to four years.