With no pool, MHS swim team faces uncertain season.
Construction at Cooke Memorial Pool in Kaunakakai could not have come at a worse time for the Molokai High School (MHS) swim team.
The team normally practices at Cooke, which closed early last month for renovations to the facilities’ roof, surrounding walkways and locker rooms. Now, more than two weeks into the season, swimmers still haven’t been in a pool.
The team didn’t hear about the pool closing until late September when the county announced the construction. With limited options, coach Jessie Ford went looking for a private pool large enough – regulation size is 25 yards long – for the team to practice in.
After a month of searching, she found a resident on the west end with a two-lane 50 meter-long lap pool wiling to help out.
Problem solved? Not so fast.
Practicing on property not owned by the county or school carries too many risks, said MHS Athletic Director Camie Kimball.
“We run into liabilities issues with that,” she said, adding that the offer – though generous – probably won’t work.
Kimball said she is talking with the county about the team’s options, which could include getting into Cooke before construction is complete. The pool’s concrete perimeter was recently torn up to install new plumbing for the locker rooms.
“Right now, it’s not really safe to have anyone up there,” said Mike Mangca, recreation leader at Cooke.
The pool could reopen before construction is complete as soon as the area is cleared of “hazardous conditions,” according to Stephen Grogan, a Parks and Recreation planner. This could be as early as Thanksgiving, he added optimistically.
Grogan said the county tried to schedule the construction to have “the least amount of impact.”
“There’s no time that has no impact,” he said. The pool’s busy season is the summer and swimming lessons are in the fall, so October to December was a rare “window of opportunity.” Construction is expected to be complete by the end of next month.
Despite the lack of pool time, Ford said she has not written the season off, instead filling practices with running, weigh lifting and yoga to improve the swimmers’ balance.
“A lot of that stuff is really good preparation for getting into the water… I’ll just keep them sweating,” she added.
Still, at some point they have to start swimming. If they’re not in the pool by mid-December, Ford said she would be “hesitant” to compete.
Many Maui swimmers they face in competition train year round, so MHS swimmers are already at a disadvantage. Still, the team is trying to stay positive.
This is junior Gyson Aalona’s third year on the team. As frustrating as the situation is, he said he doesn’t think a few weeks without swimming will be a detriment to the season.
“We’ve always been at a disadvantage, and we did good last year…I think we have a pretty good chance,” he said.
“All we can do is stay optimistic and do the best with we’ve got,” Ford added.