No spectators allowed at Dalplex for Atlantic swim meet

Nova Scotia is hosting a major swim championship next week but there's no room at Dalhousie University Dalplex pool for even a single spectator.

Fire marshal says Dalplex facility doesn't have enough exits to host spectators

Most Nova Scotia swimming competitions attract between 400 and 500 swimmers alone, not counting officials and supporters. Without facilities Swim Nova Scotia is worried they'll have to travel more, discouraging people from joining. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Nova Scotia is hosting a major swim championship next week but there's no room at the Dalhousie University Dalplex pool for a single spectator.

That's because the number of swimmers, coaches and officials coming to the meet will fill the stands to capacity.    

The provincial fire marshal is limiting the number of people poolside because the venue has only one main exit.  

The Dalplex facility is the only 50-metre pool in the province with enough lanes to host this competition.

Bette El-Hawary, executive director for Swim Nova Scotia, says that's frustrating a lot of people.    

"There are a lot of families, not only from Nova Scotia but outside of the province, that are not happy about this and are not planning to attend simply because they can't be there to celebrate with their kids," she said.

Swim Nova Scotia is lobbying to get a new 50-metre pool built.

El-Hawary says bringing national level competitions to the city benefits all swimmers, not just those who compete.

"Our swimmers, the young up-and-comers, would find it a great opportunity to watch some great swimmers, get excited to make a national team one day, have an opportunity to meet national-level swimmers. And for our own swimming community, to not have to always bear the costs of travelling outside of the region to get better competition," she said.

Health Minister Leo Glavine says he recognizes the need for an improved facility. He's hopeful that federal gas taxes may be earmarked for such projects. But he's not promising anything yet.    

"Having the public, having parents, having those people in attendance is an important part of a competitive environment and so at the present time there is a deficiency," he said.

The East Coast Swim Championships run from July 2 to July 6.