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High school swim team left scrambling after pool is shut down

Posted at 6:02 PM, Aug 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-10 19:02:53-04

The J.I. Case High School Swim Team is a perennial power in Racine County, but they're facing a lot of uncertainty heading into the new school year.  

With less than a week until the start of their 2018 season, the pool is empty.  Inspectors say it's not structurally sound. 

"Now the season is up in the air," said swimmer Taylor Knaus. "We're practicing at different places. Our swim meets have to be rescheduled or moved. It just feels so last minute and disappointing."

For now, they're practicing at Park High School in Racine. For the rest of the season, they'll have to practice at the pools of teams they compete against, or at facilities further away, like Carthage College. That means practice times will have to be later in the evening, or whatever time is available once the other teams use the pool.

Senior Maya Stillman has decided it's not worth being on the team her last year of high school

"It's not as easy, or special to me if it's not our school pool," she said. "It was really hard for me to make this decision of not swimming because these girls have become my family."

Stillman shared her concerns with the school board. She says it's hard for swimmers to suddenly shift hours at their jobs, and change homework time in order to be on the swim team. Not to mention, getting to other pools after school can be difficult for kids with working parents. 

"We have begged and begged from them to redo this pool, even just fix it, and now we have nothing," said parent Holly Krien, who is the former booster club president. "Cosmetic improvements have been made around the pool, but that's not what we needed. Meanwhile, there's been some other sport facility upgrades."

"Some amazing renovations were made to the weight room," Knaus said. "There are new locker rooms, a new gym. They painted the pool last year I think, but there have been cracks in it, and we would get little cuts on our hands from pushing off the wall."

Stacey Tapp, chief of communications and community engagement for the Racine Unified School District, says district leaders are just as disappointed the pool is empty, but they were left with no choice when it was deemed a safety issue. She says they have always tried to keep up with pool repairs without diverting funds from other facility projects, like classrooms and labs.

The pool dates back to 1966. The district is awaiting the findings of a structural engineer it hired to evaluate the pool. According to Tapp, they want students and parents involved in this process and will provide updates on ways to move forward from this.