WITH THE UPCOMING closure for six months of the Tournament Capital Centre (TCC) pool in Kamloops, things are going to get busy at Kamloops’ other pools.
Having swum for years at the Kamloops Y, I know firsthand what it will be like. Every time there is the yearly closure for maintenance of the TCC pool, the triathletes descend en masse at the Y pool. Suddenly, rather than one or two swimmers in a lane, four or five is the norm. And that’s at 5:30 in the morning.
There are going be a lot of swimmers at the YMCA and Westsyde’s indoor pools, and, in summer months, the Brock outdoor pool.
Many different groups who use the TCC pool need to find a new place to swim: swim clubs, dive clubs, synchronized swimmers and the TRU Wolfpack swim team. Triathletes, aquasizer and leisure swimmers.
All these swimmers need a place to swim.
The City of Kamloops report to council states that the City will communicate with and mitigate the impact of the closure with stakeholders and user groups such as swim clubs, event organizers, TCC leaseholders, other aquatic facilities and aquatics staff.
All these stakeholders and user groups are important and need to be accommodated.
But the most important users of all are people learning to swim.
Swimming is fun, but learning to swim is more than fun. It saves people’s lives.
Worldwide, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide.
In Canada, drowning deaths are the leading cause of unintentional-injury death for children ages 1 to 4. More children die from drowning than from motor vehicle accidents, or crossing the street, or riding a bicycle.
Learning to swim is an extremely important life skill for children. Learning to swim is as important as learning to cross the street safely or learning to wear a helmet when downhill skiing.
Learning to swim is not just important for children. Kamloops is home of thousands of international students, new to Canada, as well as hundreds of other newcomers to Canada. One international student drowned last year.
A 2010 study by the Lifesaving Society found that newcomers to Canada, those here less than five years, are at a higher risk of drowning while boating or swimming than people born in Canada. Another study found young newcomers to Canada five times more likely not to be able to swim than Canadian born youth.
In Canada, the contributing factor to 45 percent of drownings are people who are non-swimmers or weak swimmers. The next largest factor was alcohol consumption at 34 per cent, then swimming alone at 28 per cent.
Swimming is a basic life skill that keeps people alive.
As much as the swim clubs, triathlete clubs, events and others need to be accommodated, the most important users that the City of Kamloops needs to accommodate are the people wanting swimming lessons.
There is already huge demand for the lessons that are currently available. Parents scramble to get their kids into classes every spring, fall and winter.
As much as the other user groups need time, the City of Kamloops’ priority needs to ensure adequate swimming lesson occur during the six-month TCC pool closure. The City needs to ensure swimming lessons that keep our kids, newcomers to Canada and everyone safe are the number one priority.
One final request of City of Kamloops. Aquatic staff at the TCC will need other duties for six months. While 28 per cent of people in Canada drown while swimming, there are also 26 per cent who drown while power boating, fishing from a boat or canoeing, often because they are not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD’s). Only one in 10 boat-related drowning victims was wearing a PFD when they drowned.
Kamloops is surrounded by lakes and rivers where boating occurs. While the TCC pool is closed, this is an opportunity for TCC aquatic staff to increase their education at public boat launches of the importance of wearing PFD’s while boating.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.