Pool Rules All Wet - Kids Left High and Dry
Readers of this blog will know that I have pleaded with high schools throughout the Greater Toronto Area to talk to me about sports, like swimming, that seem to be shoved aside this time of the year by the perseverance of basketball and hockey coaches wanting to plug their athletes and teams.
Well, bingo. A call from a swim coach.
And with all the commotion in the past on whether to close or keep open Toronto high school pools, I thought here was an opportunity to write about a swimmer or a team. Great. But this time, it's swimmers about to see their hopes sunk. The telephone call was about a quandary that has teenage swimmers in Toronto public schools forced to make a decision: either compete for their school at the citywide finals or attend the Eastern Canadian championships in Nepean.
Why the problem? Turns out that both events are on at the same time - and this isn't the first time for date conflicts in this sport. Why can't someone take a few minutes and contact Swim Canada, Swim Ontario or a coach at the high school level, who does the same with clubs, to check on dates and avoid a mess like this?
Communication? More like a lack of communication?
Here's the deal. As many as 30 Toronto elite swimmers, who could set OFSAA standards at the four District qualifying meets on Feb. 8 and 9, must compete at the citywide final on Feb. 18 to advance to the Ontario finals on March 2 and 3. Go that route and forget about swimming at a major National meet. Nice choice, eh?
Apparently, OFSAA has made the right call this time, saying it would accept the District qualifiers - but that's if the Toronto District School Board also agreed. Three of the four District convenors insist that playing regulations must be followed. That's Chris Jones at Cedarbrae in the East, Liliana Perreira of Richview in the West and Rick Mahoney at York Mills in the North. Only Alana Soukas at Riverdale disagreed - but still lost 3-1 in the group vote. She also asked coaches in her South Region for opinions and just 6 of 16 replied. All agreed with her.
I spoke with Bryce Chin, the 16-year-old swimmer at Harbord. He has won two OFSAA gold medals and is also scheduled to go to the Nation's Capital. I'm sure he wants to compete internationally one day and, ah, we do have something called the Pan Am Games coming to this city. Chin is caught in the mess. He's upset and figures if standards are met, that should be enough. He told me he will forfeit the big meet in the capital so he doesn't let down his school buddies.
It now comes down to Monday when, coincidentally, the citywide executive (chaired by Northern's Wendy Luck) meets with a chance to make an exception to the playing regulations and support students like Chin. Let's see what happens.