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Save Lap Swimming and Masters Swimming at Rinconada Pool

Original post made by lisamkrieger, Crescent Park, on Nov 17, 2016

The City of Palo Alto is proposing to contract with the private company "Team Sheeper" to provide aquatics programs and services at our beloved Rinconada Pool, a public community asset.

While it is clear that we need expanded pool access, the current proposal - private outsourcing, with monthly "membership" and formal triathlon-based training programs for non-Palo Alto residents - is NOT the way to do it.

This week, the Parks and Recreation Commission agreed to move forward, slowly, with a Sheeper-run "Learn-to-Swim" program and not dismantle our current schedule. We commend their caution.

Why? As the city's own Community Services Department report concludes, "Additional aquatics programming will result in the need for more sharing of the pool between different interest groups."

Currently, lap swimmers and Masters Program swimmers have their separate time slots. Under Sheeper's proposal, this time would be shared.

(His Palo Alto proposal is already well underway at Menlo Park's Burgess Pool, which is perpetually crowded for anyone outside the Sheeper program.)

Lap swimmers of disparate abilities - octogenarians, recovering runners, pregnant moms and casual recreational paddlers - would be crammed into fewer lanes. So would the Masters swimmers, who train for events such as crossing the English Channel.

It would wreak havoc, adding one more stress in this increasingly stressful valley.

Please retain pool access for Palo Alto residents, who have already built and paid for this wonderful public resource - and limit access by the for-profit Team Sheeper program.

Comments (8)

Posted by Lovely lap swimming at Rinconada
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 18, 2016 at 8:35 am

Lovely lap swimming at Rinconada is a registered user.

I really enjoy lap swimming at Rinconada on weekend mornings, and the lanes are busy but not too busy. I would be really sad if half the lanes were taken by a competitive for-profit program, squeezing the rest of us into a small set of lanes.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

This sounds like another pack and stack program rather than continuing a long standing, well used traditional facility. Progress and out of towners taking precedence over established uses for residents.

I have nothing against getting full use out of the pool but not at the cost of those who want to swim for exercise but not for challenge. Recreation and well being needs of residents rather than non-resident use for training competitive swimmers must be the focus I should think.

Posted by Jordan pool
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

Years ago the Jordan pool was open to the public at certain days/hours. I swam there during the summer. Bring it back!

Posted by Dedicated Rinconada Swimmer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2016 at 8:48 pm

It's unfortunate that the Palo Alto Community Services Department which is heading up this move to privatize Rinconada pool's programs did not reach out to the community of 365 day-a-year lap swimmers and masters swimmers before proposing their plan to the Parks and Recreation Commission back in September. These swimmers are the core community at Rinconada pool and know what works and doesn't work when it comes to using and sharing the pool. The fact is that Team Sheeper's proposed program does not work for Rinconada's community of 365 day-a-year lap swimmers. Dividing pool time between users during peak hours: NO. Introducing more and different Masters workouts without the demand: NO. Closing the pool early on weekends: NO. Raising the 10 swim card fees by 50% plus: NO.

The Rinconada pool is an incredible pool with 14 lanes, a vanishing edge design, and renovated locker rooms. Why would the City farm the whole program out to an outside contractor becuase they can't adequately staff the swim lessons and lifeguards during the summer months? Until a few years ago, staffing wasn't a problem. The City needs to hire a more experienced Aquatics Director and find a way to attract Palo Alto high school students for lifeguard and teaching positions so that the pool can remain in the hands of the Community and its dedicated swimmers.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2016 at 12:44 am

The Winter Lodge manages to keep many of the skating children to staff the after school and weekend sessions when they are old enough. Perhaps the swim community should look and see how the Winter Lodge manages to get high school and college students enthusiastic about working part time after school and weekends.

Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2016 at 1:07 pm

I've lived in Palo Alto for 35 years and have been swimming laps at Rinconada for most of that time. I don't really have an opinion on the Sheeper proposal. It seems possible that privatizing the pool operation will actually lead to more opportunities for lap swimmers if the operator is able to keep the pool open more hours than the City does - even taking into account some usage by the Sheeper triathalon program. On the other hand, it's also possible that the worriers here are right and that lap swimming and masters will be squeezed by Sheeper. Perhaps that's something that might be addressed before the contract is signed.

I do have some related to the issue based on my (relatively) long experience at Rinconada. That is that the pool - lap swimming and otherwise - has been steadily getting more crowded as the population of the city continues its seemingly inexorable rise. The pool has been closed to new entrants on hot some summer days because it's reached capacity in recent years: that never happened before. Lap swimming is also much more crowded than it was a decade or so ago.

I think the simple cause of this is that city infrastructure hasn't kept up with the growth in population. (It's not only the pool that's overused and crowded.) The city keeps approving more housing permits (despite the ongoing "growth" controversy)_.... and some of the new residents start using the pool.

So a pool that was built in a city of 50,000 or so residents, now serves a population 30% larger.

This is something to keep in mind when the inevitable debate about growth starts with the new Council members. The things that made Palo Alto special and desirable won't be there if we expand the population willy nilly without taking into account the stress on recreational facilities and other infrastructure.

Posted by Barbara
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 28, 2016 at 10:03 am

I appreciate the more reasoned, limited approach the Parks and Rec Commission is taking to the Team Sheeper proposal for Riconada poll in 2017. My husband and I are year round midday lap swimmers(MWF). A growing number of new lap swimmers are using the pool.Many have limited skills for a variety of reasons. Four lanes for the many, fast excellent swimmers with some of these seniors, pregnant women, and persons with disabilities is simply unfair to all. Midday sunshine and warmth is an encouragement to swim. The pool sharing of 4-5 lanes for lessons worked well this past summer. Please continue access for us Palo Alto residents and employees and limit the huge expansion now proposed!!

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 29, 2016 at 8:39 am

[Post removed.]

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