This marked my fourth — and last — district championship meet as an LOHS swimmer. Every aspect of our team seems to have changed over these four years — coaches, camaraderie — except for one: our pool.
When I lived on the East Coast, I swam on a competitive YMCA team for seven years. In Oregon, I found that same competition with the Lake Oswego Swim Club, where I swam for three years; now I just swim for the high school team. My brother, who also swam on LOSC for several years, eventually joined the Lake Oswego Water Polo (LOWPO) program. Now he's a diehard polo player, high school swimmer, and lifeguard. (Not to mention that my parents are dedicated lap-swimmers themselves.)
Over my decade swimming, I have seen beautiful pools and ugly pools, under and over-chlorinated pools, eighteen-lane pools and four-lane pools, pools with ritzy locker rooms and pools with locker rooms that feel as spacious as a porta-potty. I've sat in spectator sections that look like arenas and ones that would barely qualify as "sections." I've swam at community centers, high schools, large and small universities. And I have swam at the Lake Oswego pool.
The Lake Oswego pool isn't just unremarkable — it has reached a dangerous level of disrepair. Two years ago, when I was visiting the pool frequently for club practice, one of the ceiling beams cracked, hanging over the water. Considering the beam a harbinger of larger infrastructural implications, the district was faced with a decision: it could have rebuilt the entire facility, or it could have repaired the single beam. It chose the latter.
But there's more to this than just the beam. The facility is almost 50 years old. Its floor is cracked and sharp. (So sharp that one of my former teammates managed to slice his foot while practicing.) The air quality is nightmarishly thick, warm, and heavily chlorinated. It often forces swimmers out of the pool prematurely, coughing uncontrollably, to find fresh air outside. The starting blocks are dirty and slippery. This last district meet, which was held at the Lake Oswego pool, was so congested that parents and swimmers alike were forced to stand because there simply wasn't enough space to accommodate.
And no one receives an adequate amount of pool time, of course, since the facility offers a trifling eight lanes. Its schedule looks like a vibrant mosaic of disappointing compromises. Everyone — LOHS, Lakeridge, LOSC, Cascadia (another club swim team), LOWPO, lap swimmers, lesson teachers — is fighting for precious minutes.
I have swam in this pool for over four years, and although its prolonged dysfunction has often frustrated me, I'm still hopeful for change. The School Board and City Council have an opportunity to support generations of future swimmers by creating an inclusive, versatile aquatics program. Constructing a strong aquatics program just makes sense; after all, we live in Lake Oswego.
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