Edmonton

Aquatic athletes win bigger, better pool at Lewis Farms rec centre

The pool at the future Lewis Farms Recreation Centre will be bigger and better after councillors approved a new design that includes a 53-metre-lane pool and two diving platforms, one 7.5 metres and the other 10 metres.

'There is a large gap, not just in the west end, for this type of rec centre'

The Kinsmen Sports Centre is due to close for up to two years for renovations. (Don Hammond Photography/City of Edmonton)

The pool at the future Lewis Farms Recreation Centre will be bigger and better after councillors approved a new design that includes a 53-metre-lane pool and two diving platforms, one 7.5 metres and the other 10 metres.

The original design for the pool at long-awaited recreation centre was a 25-metre pool with a five-metre diving board.

The Aquatics Council of Edmonton wanted the changes so elite athletes could train at the pool.

The only pool that meets the council's needs right now is the Kinsmen, but it's due to close for up to two years for renovations.

The changes will add an additional $10 million to the centre's $200-million price tag.

The longer pool and the diving platforms are needed in order to keep local athletes competitive, said Herb Flewwelling, an Olympic diving coach with the council.

"In order to get to the Olympics or to get to national championships or even to compete at provincial juniors you need the 7.5 and the 10," he said.

The rent the council would pay for using the new facility would pay for the changes over 10 years, he said.

Flewwelling said the closure of the Kinsmen without an alternative training facility would have long-lasting, detrimental effects on swimming and diving in Edmonton.

"If we lose 18 months, we have to lay off three international coaches," he said. "Then all our kids would go into something else or leave town and move to other parts of Canada or take a scholarship in the States.

"We'd never see them again. So it would take 15 years to get back. It's like a race. You can't stop and tie your shoe for a minute and expect to win."

Not just for future Olympians

The changes will allow the city to offer more swimming programs for the general public as well, something the growing population of Edmonton needs badly, said ​Coun. Andrew Knack. 

"There is a large gap, not just in the west end, for this type of rec centre and we have to be prepared for when we close down spots like the Kinsmen," he said.

Flewwelling agreed.

"It will be the equivalent of adding four more Jasper Place pools," he said.

On April 5, a detailed design will return to city council for discussion about funding the next phase of the project.

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