Nfld. & Labrador

Delayed pool reopening a flop with Gander swimmers, parents

The Gander Arts and Culture Centre pool is reopening a month later than expected, and that's getting low scores from some local swimmers and their parents.
Dylan Morawski of the Gander Lakers, seen here in competition, is getting less than half his normal training hours. (Submitted by Trevor Fleming)

The Gander Arts and Culture Centre pool is reopening a month later than expected, and that's getting low scores from some local swimmers and their parents.

"Try to tell a 15-year-old or a 12-year-old why the pool has taken six months. You could build a pool in that length of time," said Diane Vey-Morawski, a parent of two swimmers in Gander.

You could build a pool in that length of time.- Diane Vey-Morawski, Gander parent

The pool has been closed since late August to repair the joists in the roof. It was supposed to reopen in mid-January, but that has been postponed.

John Haggie, the MHA for the area, posted Friday on his Facebook page that an update would be coming Feb. 1 and acknowledged the inconvenience.

Although repairs to the roof are done, the Arts and Culture centre has to do cleaning and yearly maintenance that it couldn't finish in the fall. Vey-Morawski hoped the maintenance would have been delayed until after the Canada Games trials in March.

Swimmer Melissa Brown said it's been a hard year, traveling hours for swim time in places like St. John's, Conception Bay South and Grand Falls-Windsor.

"Usually we would have the weekends to ourselves for homework and friends," said the 14-year-old swimmer. "But now that we drive into St. John's every weekend, we have to wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning."

Brown's father Keith Brown, who is also president of the Gander Lakers Swim Club, said if the pool were a hockey rink, it would be fixed. 

"We've been shut down for four months and now they're telling us they're not sure what kind of maintenance they're going to have to do once the steel work is done," said Brown.

"If the pool doesn't look pretty, we don't care," he added. "As long as it's safe for our kids."

Vey-Morawski agrees, adding that each day lost is a leg up for the competition.

"Each day means a whole lot for our kids right now, and one week, two weeks delayed, another month delayed, it's a lot of a training lost," Vey-Morawski told the Central Morning Show.

Vey-Morawski has been driving her kids to Grand Falls-Windsor and St. John's for the past five months. She said they are only getting seven to eight hours of training each week when they usually get 20 hours. 

As it is, Vey-Morawski thinks it'll be hard for the Gander swimmers to qualify for the Canada Games.

The Gander pool has been closed to competitive swimmers and local groups for several months. (Julia Cook/CBC)

"You've had four years of kids that are so dedicated … then because of no fault of their own and bureaucracy and red tape and government issues, these kids have not been able to train since September, so it's really deflating."

About the Author

Julia Cook


Julia Cook reports from CBC's bureau in Gander, primarily for the Central Morning Show.

With files from the Central Morning Show