The City of Surrey’s announcement last week that the Surrey Sports and Leisure Centre is set to reopen has done little to help South Surrey aquatic groups, which remain in a scramble to find pool space and are still in the dark with regard to when the two Semiahmoo Peninsula indoor pools will open.
While the Sports and Leisure Centre, which is located in Fleetwood, will reopen Oct. 13, the city’s website still lists the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre and South Surrey Indoor Pool as being closed.
A spokesperson from the city told Peace Arch News Monday that there was no update as to when they will be open, adding that “as announcements are made to the public about planned opening dates, including the pools, this will be immediately updated online.”
In the meantime, South Surrey-based clubs like the Pacific Sea Wolves Swim Club and the White Rock Divers will train at the Sports and Leisure Centre, while the divers have also booked training sessions at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre.
Both clubs had been training outdoors at the Bear Creek pool, but that facility is set to close for the season Oct. 9.
At Bear Creek, the Sea Wolves, operating at 50 per cent capacity, had been training for 320 lane hours per week, head coach Jy Stewart said. In Fleetwood, they have been allotted 190 hours, and training sessions are now primarily at 5:15 a.m. on weekdays, with a few 4 p.m. sessions as well.
Four swimmers can swim in each lane under COVID-19 protocols, as opposed to the usual eight swimmers.
“I haven’t experienced any frustration from parents because they understand it’s out of my control, but there’s definitely some concerns because the majority of parents can’t travel to (the Sports and Leisure Centre) at that time in the morning,” Stewart said.
Stewart worries that the lack of open facilities will affect her club’s youngest members.
“Our younger swimmers aren’t able to make that time. Usually these younger swimmers also have other siblings, and parents can’t leave them at home while they drive their kid to the pool at 5:15 in the morning,” she said, adding that 4 p.m. sessions aren’t easy for working parents to get to, either.
“There are a lot of people who are just waiting for our local pools to open, and there are kids who haven’t touched the water since February.
“For our (more advanced) swimmers, the ones who are provincially qualified, their (families) have bought in and are making it work, so it’s not this year that I’m worried about the club, it’s two, three years from now when our eight-year-old swimmers are 11 or 12 and they’ve missed an entire year of development. Who knows if they’re even going to continue – maybe they’ll find a new sport that’s available and more accommodating right now.”
Like the Sea Wolves, the White Rock Divers have been training recently at Bear Creek, although the diving facilities are not quite what they’re used to. Members are diving from a standing position – as opposed to gaining momentum on a traditional board – which keeps them sharp, but is not ideal, club founder Bev Boys said.
“There’s not much we can do, so at least it’s something,” she said.
Boys echoed Stewart’s hope that the successful opening of the Sport and Leisure Centre would lead to other openings soon.
“We keep bugging them… and the way it was explained to us, they said it wouldn’t be long,” Boys said.
In a news release announcing the opening of the Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre, Coun. Laurie Guerra – who is also the chair of the parks and recreation committee – said “barring any public health concerns, the remaining indoor pools are anticipated to reopen after the safe and successful launch of the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex pool.”
“We’re taking the same cautious approach to opening the indoor pools as with all our recreation facilities; open gradually and carefully.”
Stewart said she’s “not optimistic for anything before January.”