When budget woes forced the city to close the James Lemos Aquatic Center on Oct. 1, the Arsenal Swim Club lost its fall season and lap swimmers looking for a low impact aerobic workout lost an option.
While club members scrambled to find new clubs to join, parents and pool users started talking about ways to avoid the early closure next year.
A group of parents and citizens came together Monday for a first formal meeting, and though it doesn't have an official name, it does have an official goal: to keep the pool open at least 10 months next year and increase demand so eventually it can stay open year-round.
The meeting was hosted by , whose daughter Emma is a swimmer, and Paul Winders, who uses the pool for lap swimming and now has to travel to Walnut Creek to get his exercise. Kevin Raab, the Arsenal coach, was supposed to attend but was under the weather.
This first meeting was called to define the issues and begin figuring out solutions. Everyone agreed the highest priority is to raise money to pay for pool operations next October and November as well as part of December so the Arsenal Swim Club can compete in the fall swim season and lap swimmers have addditional time to use the pool.
The cost of keeping the pool open is estimated at $33,000. The Arsenal Swim Club expects to raise about $8,000 by hosting swim clinics and workshops throughout the year, introducing a masters swim program and teaming with other fitness professionals to lure triathletes to the pool.
How to raise the remaining $25,000 was discussed but no decisions were made.
Mayor Elizabeth Patterson was at the meeting and urged the group to investigate sustainable and low-cost methods for heating the pool. The highest cost associated with keeping the pool open in the winter is heating the water.
Besides money, the group discussed political considerations. It was agreed that swimmers are under-represented in the political arena and volunteers are needed to apply for positions on the Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission, which reccomends how the parks department allocates its resources.
Winders was adamant about the need to keep the pool open as much of the year as possible. "It saved my life by giving me something to do that didn't hurt me but kept me fit," he said.
The group's next meeting will be Jan. 10. The location has not been determined.