Calgary

Water polo athlete builds backyard hay bale pool to train for Olympics

A member of Canada's national women's water polo team wanted to keep up her training during the COVID-19 pandemic but all the pools were closed — so she "baled" herself out by building one … out of hay.

Kyra Christmas got creative to keep up her training

Kyra Christmas, who is on the Canadian national women's water polo team, and her dog pose on some hay bales for a photo before starting to build a unique pool. (Kyra Christmas/Instagram)

A member of Canada's national women's water polo team wanted to keep up her training during the COVID-19 pandemic but all the pools were closed — so she "baled" herself out by building one … out of hay.

Kyra Christmas, 23, had been training full time with the team in Montreal as they prepared for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics before the pandemic hit.

When the physical distancing restriction began, she happened to be visiting her parents near Calgary, just southeast of Airdrie in Rockyview County. Then the Olympics were cancelled and all the pools shut down because of the coronavirus.

Still, Christmas was itching to get back into the water and keep up her training.

"Being out of the pool for over a month was just a bit too long for me. So I was looking at, like, buying above ground for the first time and I realized that none of them are deep enough to tread water," Christmas told the Calgary Eyeopener.

"So my parents were, like, well, we can come up with a better solution than that."

  • WATCH | Check out this timelapse video of the hay bale pool being built by Kyra Christmas and her family:
Kyra Christmas was set to go to the Tokyo Olympics when COVID-19 shut everything down. She's built a unique homemade pool in order to keep up her training. 0:48

Her father, Steven Christmas, works in landscaping construction, so he had the know-how and equipment they needed.

They decided to build their own outdoor pool. 

It would be about five metres long, 2½ metres wide and two metres deep.

And it would be made of hay — 16 bales' worth.

Over two days, they stacked the bales, double-lined them with tarps and filled the resulting cavity with four truckloads of water.

"I jumped in a couple times but I ended up having to order a wetsuit online because it's just too cold," Christmas said.

Kyra Christmas and her father stand in the soon to be pool surrounded by 16 hay bales. (Kyra Christmas/Instagram)

Christmas posted on Instagram to track the construction — starting with the hashtag #justbertathings — and then posted a video detailing how it was done.

"Closing down the pools was the last straw for me, so I … baled myself out and made my own," she says in the video.

So far, the hay bale pool has received lots of attention, she said.

Other members of the swimming community have asked to use it, she said, given all pools have been closed for the pandemic.

In the meantime, she remains optimistic about the Olympics, given the team's qualification is expected to be recognized for the Games rescheduled to 2021.

"It was a little disappointing at first but it just gives our team another year to train and get better together," Christmas said. "So I think in a way it was kind of a good thing."

The team's acceptance to the 2020 Olympics was its first since 2004, she said.

Kyra Christmas, right, competes in Budapest in 2017. She remains optimistic about the Olympics, given the Canadian national women's water polo team qualification is expected to be recognized for the Games rescheduled to 2021. (Balazs Czagany/MTI via The Associated Press)

The national women's water polo team has made other fun Instagram videos during the pandemic. In one posted a month ago, players across Canada pretend to be playing a game and passing the ball from their lawns, living rooms and even a hot tub.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist from Nova Scotia and working for CBC News in Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.

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