Sunday, 12 January 2014


I went lane swimming Saturday for the first time in almost four months.  It was great to be back in the water, but I still miss my early bird swims before heading to work.  In September, the Town of Fairview decided to cancel all their morning pool programs – not enough staff was what was said, but the undercurrent was that the pool was losing money (what sports facility doesn’t) and the adults who used the pool during those hours weren’t important.  In this era of “active living” and “life long fitness”, to remove a core fitness program for adults brings to my mind the Nike “If you let me play sports” campaign of the 1990s which stressed fitness for girls.
800 free World Masters Games 2009

Would never have made it if not for all those lengths of the
 Fairview Pool

I’d had an annual membership since September 2006 and was one of the core supporters of the early morning swim (I probably swim 120 times a year, always at that time).  This time is ideal for the working adult, particularly those with families and commitments in the evening. With the cancellation of the early swim, there is no place for adults who wish to have swimming as their fitness activity.  Early morning lane swimming is a core program at every pool I am familiar with, not only in Alberta, but elsewhere in Canada as well as in other countries I’ve visited.

If you look at the current schedule, you will see the words “lane swim” added on to other types of swim programs, but that doesn’t mean that it is actually possible to swim continuously and for fitness/skill building.

In the present schedule, there are theoretically three times where it might be possible to swim:
·       I attempted to swim during the noon to 2:00 Family/Adult/Lane swim.  There were several families and a number of adults leisurely enjoying the 4 open lanes.  The fifth lane, where we were supposed to swim, had three swimmers in it, of vastly different abilities, which meant you could not swim continuously and certainly could not do drills, starts or turns.  In addition, any adult who works during the day will not be able to attend this session.
·       I attempted to swim during the evening 6:00 to 7:00 Family/Adult/Lane swim.  Again, the 4 open lanes were filled with families and adults enjoying the water, but not swimming in any consistent manner.  For a time, I shared the one lane with a young man who was a great deal faster than I and I have no doubt that it frustrated him.  I was told that I could not do a dive start, even though I was the only one swimming in the lane and it was made very clear that the guards were not happy with me trying to complete my swim right up to 7:00.  Indeed, public swimmers were in the water well before the hour, and the lane rope was removed at 6:50.  When I arrived before 6:00, I was told I could not enter the change room before 6:00 “because the guards are on their break”.  In essence, this means that there is at maximum 45 minutes where it might be possible to swim.  The other problem with this time period is that it conflicts with the college’s group exercise programs that run from 5:30 to 6:30 or from 7:00 to 8:00.  As well for any parent who has children in sports or extra curricular activities, this is not a time where they could be at the pool.
·       The third time, 8:30 to 9:30, is also likely affected by the need to remove lane ropes/replace lane ropes.  Personally, it is too late at night for me to have an effective training swim.

I understand that sometimes hard decisions need to be made for financial reasons.  But removing a core fitness program for adults is wrong.  If lane swimming needs to happen at a different time of day, then it needs to be given a space where adults wishing to swim for fitness can do so – at a minimum a full hour (preferably longer) to swim, with lanes for different abilities (and the expectation that continuous swimming will happen in these lanes) and at a time that will not conflict with working hours of adults.

I’m angry that this decision was made and frustrated that there is nothing I can do about it.  I know it is my responsibility to take charge of my own fitness, but in a country where it is dark before and after work for six months of the year and freezing for much of the same time, swimming was the perfect choice for me.

Can I still call myself a swimmer if I have no place to swim?

I still have the "If you let me play sports" poster hanging where I see it as I sew.  I first brought it home when my daughter was in elementary school and many of her classmates were discouraged from participating in sports at the same time as unlimited amounts of money was available for their brothers to play hockey. 

1 comment:

  1. A couple of rants in a row. I find that as I am moving from the general "We are going to travel for a year" to the specific "where will I sleep in Darwin in October", that I am bumping into a lot of bureaucratic roadblocks, which I have no control over. So, a couple of grumbles about things I can change. Swimmingly, the pool isn't going to change their schedule for me, I will just need to go on Saturdays, no matter how inconvenient.