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Tony Rose Pool Closure May Decimate Orangeville Otters!

The Town of Orangeville’s Recreation and Parks Master Plan for 2020 was released, and one of the recommendations was to close the pool at the Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre. Rob Taylor, Head Coach for the Orangeville Otters Swim Club, describes what would likely happen to the Orangeville Otters Swim Club if Orangeville’s council were to follow through on the Master Plan’s suggestion.

Our discussion begins with Rob sharing the progress that the Orangeville Otters have made over recent years, in terms of club numbers and achievements. Several members have even represented the club, and made qualifying times, at the Olympic trials! He says a significant factor contributing to the club’s success is increased pool time, and that they spend a significant portion of their time training at Tony Rose. They’ve explored other facilities, such as pools outside of Orangeville, but they are seen as unfeasible given how geographically dispersed the club’s membership is. Rob explains how Orangeville acts as a regional hub for the area, and how the pools serve more than just Orangeville’s residents. In addition to this, Rob provides details on what led him to Orangeville and his past as an athlete, a coach, and an Olympian!

Next, we discuss how the Orangeville Otters have been managing through COVID. Their members have demonstrated tremendous dedication and initiative throughout all of this, as they have had to implement new solo training regimens and keep themselves on track without having a coach nearby monitoring their progress. Coach Rob shares how some of the Otters have already started swimming outdoors at the Caledon Quarry before they get back into the indoor facilities, starting with the Tony Rose pool. Rob explains that members who have not been able to keep up with their training, as a result of less pool time, will lose out on the progress they have made. The youngest swimmers have time to make up for this and the faster aquatics facilities are opened back up in a safe manner, the quicker all of the Otters can get back on track. Rob describes the COVID-related safety measures being put in place to ensure the club re-opens while protecting its members.

After learning about how the club has been managing through the COVID crisis, we get into the Town of Orangeville’s Recreation and Parks Master Plan for 2020. This part of the discussion begins with Rob being asked if the current state of Orangeville’s aquatics facilities is adequate for the requirements of the Orangeville Otters. Coach Rob states how the club’s growing numbers, in addition to the region’s demand for aquatics programs, have shown that more supply is needed. The aquatics facilities could also be improved, and Rob is supportive of upgrading to an eight-lane tank at the Alder Street Recreating Centre, although he acknowledges this will most likely require more investment from the club. They have already partnered with the town to pay for starting blocks on the existing six lanes, and this upgrade would require two more. That being said, this would still be a reduction of four lanes if the Tony Rose pool were to close. According to Rob, this will not be enough to service the community or provide adequate opportunities for future aquatics programs that may come into existence. Another solution is offered by Coach Rob. A ten-lane, twenty-five-meter pool that could be transformed to have the lanes go width-wise. This could result in twelve lanes that would dramatically increase the amount of programming accommodated by the Alder pool. Regardless, if the Orangeville’s council were to follow the proposals laid out by the Recreation and Parks Master Plan for 2020, it would further reduce the likelihood of the region’s demand for aquatics programming being met.

The Recreation and Parks Master Plan for 2020 mentioned how the Tony Rose pool had an issue with its HVAC system. Coach Rob mentions how this affected the Orangeville Otters. This resulted in sore lungs for those breathing deeply when training hard, requiring members to take breathing breaks in better-ventilated areas. The Town of Orangeville has since corrected this, which has helped, although humidity is now a significant issue. Despite this, Coach Rob says the Tony Rose pool still has its uses for the club and the community, mainly as a training pool. There are still concerns for older, high-performance Otters who swim at Tony Rose, especially as the reopening of the Alder Street pool is still uncertain. If Tony Rose becomes the primary aquatics facility for the foreseeable future, this could prove challenging for the club. Rob Taylor acknowledges that a brand new aquatics facility may prove more cost-effective in the long-run, as Tony Rose does have accessibility and space limitations in its current form. Rob shares how all of this uncertainty creates complications when submitting the Orangeville Otters’ reopening plans to Swim Canada, as they want to ensure everything is being performed safely.

The final portion of our discussion focuses on what would happen to the Orangeville Otters Swim Club if the Tony Rose pool were to close. Coach Rob says it would be unfeasible to keep up with previous years’ offerings. To ensure the club’s survival, membership fees may have to be raised and pool time may be reduced. Currently, the club and its members have a bright future ahead of them full of opportunities. The closure of the Tony Rose pool could erase the remarkable progress that has been made over recent years. It would place a limit on the potential of the club, and as a result, its members. It could even result in Rob leaving his position as head coach. Many would understand if he did, considering there would be very little room to grow the club and someone with Rob’s experience would likely be in high demand. The future of the Orangeville Otters Swim Club, and Dufferin’s aquatics programming in general, is dependent on an adequate supply of pool time. Does the Town of Orangeville’s Recreation and Parks Master Plan properly account for this? Let Orangeville’s council know your thoughts!

Orangeville Otters Swim Club

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