Nova Scotia

Halifax swimmers landlocked after fluke pool closures

The temporary closure of three Halifax-area pools has some in the swimming community calling for a new facility in the city.

'We've been begging and borrowing pool time anywhere we can find it,' says coach

The temporary closure of three pools in the city means swimmers are having to share lanes to train. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Swimming clubs in Halifax didn't expect their training over the holidays to be on land, but that's what's happening to some as three busy pools are shut down at the same time.

The trouble started at the end of October when a fire at the Sackville Sports Stadium closed its swimming pool. It's set to reopen on Jan. 2. 

Then Centennial Pool became off limits at the beginning of December as part of a planned closure to replace the bulkhead.

Swimming teams were making do with the circumstances when another problem struck: the pool at Dalplex sprung a leak. It's been closed since Dec. 13, and won't reopen until Jan. 10.

"The clubs are really frustrated, to be honest," said Bette El-Hawary, the executive director for Swim Nova Scotia. "It's put them in a situation to their members that they're not able to provide a service."

'Begging and borrowing pool time'

Clubs are now sharing lanes where possible, meaning extra traffic in the water for swimmers.

"We've been begging and borrowing pool time anywhere we can find it," said Chris Stone, head coach with the Halifax Trojans Aquatic Club. "We've been swimming at facilities all around the city."

This is typically a busy time of year for swimmers. Once schools close for the holidays, they head to the pool and intensify their training. Instead, Stone said some of his teams are heading to the gym, training on land instead of in water. 

"Really we're just trying to do damage control to keep them at least as fit or minimize the loss of fitness that we're seeing with them right now."

'We're a slave to circumstances'

He said the Dartmouth Crusaders have been especially helpful in offering up training time, because they're about to find themselves in the same situation. The Dartmouth Sportsplex is set to be closed in June for an 18-month renovation. 

Both El-Hawary and Stone say this situation proves the need for a new swimming facility in the city.

They believe the swimmers will find themselves in a crunch again in the future, especially during the Dartmouth renovations.

"We're a slave to circumstance," said Stone. "The facilities that exist in the city are old and aging."

No new plans

The city points to projects — such as the Dartmouth renovation — as upgrades that will ensure long life cycles for the pools. There are seven municipally owned swimming pools, including four that are operated by boards.

In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the municipality said there are no short term plans to build a new facility. 

"Any decision in relation to a new pool would be determined through a recreation needs assessment, and ultimately approved by regional council," said Tiffany Chase.