Why does Norman need a year round swimming pool? Recreation and exercise come immediately to mind, but perhaps the most important reason is to provide the opportunity for everyone to learn how to swim.
According to The Takeaway program, America is barely staying afloat with the Red Cross reporting 37 percent of Americans admit to not being good swimmers. Almost a third of that number said they couldn’t swim at all. Even worse is among minority groups: 70 percent of African-American children and 60 percent of Hispanic children don’t know how to swim. More than half.
The Olympic Swim Trials were held from June 25-July 2, often in front of sell-out crowds. That’s 18,975 seats in the audience. Three Oklahomans swam in the trials: David Plummer, Paul Le, and Eastman Holloway. It was exciting.
It’s hard to fathom the popularity of swimming as a spectator sport when swimmers in Norman are begging for water time in a limited number of lanes. The Olympics is the one time that the general population gets excited about swimming. According to USA Swimming, the future of swimming looks bright:
Anyone who bemoans the future of USA Swimming, look no further than the 200 backstroke events, men’s and women’s. On the men’s side, three of the most dynamic swimmers in our future – Ryan Murphy, Jack Conger, and Jacob Pebley – showed America why swimming’s “After Phelps” future is bright. Murphy wowed all week, including dominating his own age group national record in the 100m backstroke while challenging Peirsol’s record in the 200. In the women’s 200m backstroke, every finalist was a teenager except for Teresa Crippen. When is the last time an Olympic Trials championship finals featured seven teenagers? While it’s true, many older and post-graduate athletes competed, some standout youngsters hinted there’s a long road of success ahead.
Let’s remember to use the momentum of the excitement drummed up by Olympic swimming to further swimming in Norman—for all ages and types of swimmers.
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintended, injury related death of children under 14 and a leading cause of death for children ages 1-5. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4, yet many kids do not receive formal swimming or water safety training. The number one water safety tip from the International Swimming Hall of Fame (ISHOF) is to teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible. Encourage swimming lessons and water safety in our community. Drowning is such a preventable accident, but we need swimming pools!
The Pisces Project’s efforts to get a new aquatic center in Norman are gaining momentum,
but it needs a big push from the swimming community. The City of Norman is
engaged in open discussions about a “cultural center” that is to be
part of University North Park (UNP). The definition of cultural center is broad
and could mean an aquatic center. The aquatic center, along with at least two
other projects, are being considered. If the aquatic center is chosen, funding
from University North Park (TIF) will be applied to the project. This does not
require a public vote only a City Council vote. So City Council members need to
be convinced that the aquatic center is the clear choice.
Here’s how you can help. Contact the City Council members and tell them to build the
aquatic center. Urge the city council to choose an aquatic center as the
cultural center planned for UNP in the TIF. Explain what an aquatic center would do for Norman’s quality of life. Then ask friends, neighbors, and family in Norman to do the same. If you don’t have the contact information, you’ll find it at the City of Norman government page at http://www.ci.norman.ok.us/cityclerk/city-council.
Brad Swendig of COM Aquatics takes the “Field of Dreams” approach to swimming pools: Build it and they will come — swimmers, that is … and water walkers, arthritis sufferers, water therapy recipients and others. (Norman Transcript – 3/5/2012)
Pisces Project members and supporters found a nice surprise waiting for them in today’s hometown newspaper. On the front page–above the fold–was an article about an “Aquatic Center Entrepreneur.” The article was the result of a Pool Management Seminar sponsored by the Pisces Project sponsored at Embassy Suites Hotel on March 2nd. We hope the well-attended seminar and subsequent newspaper article will get everyone talking about NORMAN’s Year-Round Aquatic Center.
Norman’s Sooner Swim Club sponsored the 2012 Short Course Division II Championships at the OU’s indoor pool. While SSC pulled it off, the crowds at the pool were nothing short of amazing during the morning sessions. Mornings featured 12 and under competitive swimmers.
Research out of the University of South Carolina concluded that swimmers were 50 percent less likely to die than walkers and runners after studying more than 40,000 men ages 20 to 90 who were followed for 32 years.
More and more communnities in the United States are recognizing swimming benefits for all ages. Take Jasper, Alabama, for instance. The city of almost 14,000 in northwest Alabama has budgeted $250,000 in capital outlay for the construction of the new pool. The previous pool had to be closed a few years earlier due to structural concerns.
According to Jasper Council President Sandi Sudduth, city officials chose a new site instead of the building at the old site in order to provide room for future growth.
Closer to home, Edmond city, school, and YMCA officials are hoping to get out requests for bids by Christmas for the $22 million Edmond aquatic facility so that they can vote on a contract by January 23, according to Edmond City Manager Larry Stevens.
Edmond schools have committed to paying $10 million of the design and construction cost with the city and the YMCA splitting the remaining $12 million for a 50-meter, eight-lane swimming pool with seating for up to 800 spectators. A recreation center will have a family aquatic area, an elevated walking/jogging track, a fitness center and exercise rooms. The Edmond Aquatic facility is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013.