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The Pool that Could Have Been

Teagan King, Guest Writer

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Across the country, high schools focus heavily on sports teams and their successes, and schools make funding for sports a priority so they can pay for equipment, buses, and more.  Football teams get new footballs, volleyball teams get several nets, and tennis teams get many tennis courts.  If sports are that important to schools, then why does Geneva High School not have a pool for their swim team?

Many of the schools in the surrounding area have their own pools for the school’s swimming and diving teams to use, including St. Charles North, St. Charles East, West Chicago, and West Aurora, and all of these swim teams are often quite successful. The girls swim team at St. Charles North won the 2017 UEC Conference Championship, and the St. Charles East boys swim team had three relays and eight other entries qualify for state as well.

Looking at the land Geneva High School sits on, one can easily see that there is not much open space.  The current high school building was built in 1958, and over time, the high school, parking lots, and athletic fields have easily taken up nearly all of the space in the area.  The Geneva High School Athletic Director Dave Carli, who has worked at Geneva for seventeen years, mentioned that the school did look at other locations in the community as possibilities for a pool location in the past.  He explained how “we can’t have a pool here because we’re kind of landlocked…we have no space”.

The lack of land available to build a pool on is just one of the multiple difficulties the school district has faced when trying to come up with a solution. Mr. Carli explained that in order “to have pools be successful, it has to be a joint venture with the park district, school district, and the community”. Principal Rogers, who has been principal of Geneva High school for twelve years and worked in the Geneva school district for twenty-nine years, explained that during the time he has worked in the school district, “there has never really been a serious conversation about adding a pool that would be solely funded or belong solely to the school district”.

This lack of communication emphasized by both Carli and Rogers made it very difficult to truly get any plan in action. Mr. Rogers also added that there were, however, a few talks with the Park District about jointly owning and maintaining a pool together, but those talks never got very far. There was a committee at one point that discussed the possibility of building a pool and looked into the cost and maintenance that would be required. The facilities director and school board held a community meeting at that same time, but both the school and park districts were uneasy about how expensive it would be to not just build, but also to maintain a pool, adding another complication to the issue. Despite all of these roadblocks, Mr. Rogers did expressly say that the absence of a pool at Geneva High School is “not because people don’t value pools or don’t value swimming”.

When asked about the logistics of finding solutions to work around the absence of a pool, Mr. Rogers explained that it was actually fairly complicated to figure out how to combat the issue.  He added that other schools in the area are also missing pools and need to find solutions, creating demand and competition in the surrounding area to find a successful co-op team with a school that does have a pool. In the past, students who swam with a club outside of school had the opportunity to represent the high school at meets such as state meets, and that was the closest thing to a school swim team. During the summer, this arrangement from the past seemed very likely to return.  The boys swimming team at Geneva has not successfully found a team to co-op with in the past, but the school is not ruling out the possibility of a future team. On the other hand, the girls swim team has successfully found co-ops in the past, though not without a few challenges. Over the past two years, Geneva and South Elgin had a co-op and practiced at South Elgin’s pool, but this arrangement did not run smoothly as a result of poor planning and resources. Also, because their contract was about to expire, Geneva had to search for a new team in the area to co-op with, but there seemed to be no options.

As the search continued into the summer, hopes began to dwindle about finding a new team. The other team in the area was a combined Batavia and West Chicago team, which had been a co-op team for the past few years, so it seemed very unlikely that Geneva would get to be a part of it.  Fortunately, the they did allow Geneva to join, but it was not an instantaneous decision. Mr. Rogers even explained the uncertainty of the situation, saying that the solution “didn’t really occur until the eleventh hour… we were thinking all summer long that we weren’t going to be able to continue the co-op”. According to Mr. Rogers, this new setup at the West Chicago pool is “going very well.”

Swimming could be incorporated into the P.E. curriculum, and both the boys and girls swim teams would have a convenient place to practice if there were a pool at Geneva High School, giving ample reasoning as to why the school district should possibly reconsider the idea of building a pool.  However, the logistical challenges of the expenses to build and maintain a pool, lack of available space, and absence of help from the park district make installing a pool here at Geneva High School too much of a challenge to tackle.

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The Pool that Could Have Been