Two weekends ago, a local swim team held a competition that brought hundreds of people to Elk Grove–but the team could bring many more if it had the space.
The practice and compete at the , but there isn't enough room for the 350-member team or for its largest competitions.
"There's so much lane crowding, they [aren't] able to get up to speed," Assistant Coach said during a recent practice as kids swam side-by-side in the pool. "It would definitely be easier if there was more lanes and more space."
Officials from the team met with city, Cosumnes Community Services District and officials a few days before their June 2 tournament to discuss the city's as part of its planned .
"We're in the beginning of hopefully a phenomenal facility," Head Coach Brenda Smart said.
As it is, the team has to turn away prospective swimmers because it has too many for its practice space. Elk Grove Piranhas Board of Directors President Mark Sams said the Wackford is a great facility, but the team has to share it with recreational swimmers, water aerobics classes and other uses.
"Speaking to other [swim team] presidents, they have probably another 35-40 percent more water time than we have," Sams said. "If we had the time we should be dominating this entire area. We should just be spanking them, but we need more water time."
School swim teams would also welcome more pool space. Every high school in the Elk Grove Unified School District has a swim team and many have dive and water polo programs, but no school in the district has its own swimming pool. The closest thing is a pool at , owned and operated by the Southgate Recreation and Park District.
School district avoided pool construction
Despite the Elk Grove Unified School District's expansion in recent years, swimming pools were never high on its wish list.
"We're very concerned about costs and having enough funds to continue on that we may educate kids," Elk Grove Unified School District Board of Education President Chet Madison said. "Pools are a nice luxury to have for the kids who want to participate in aquatics and things like, that but it's still a case where the maintenance comes in as a large factor as well."
He said even the most popular sports like football and basketball don't bring in enough money to cover all their costs.
Madison said the district would be interested in exploring a partnership with the city on operating an aquatic complex, but cautioned that the two groups get money from very different sources: the city primarily from taxes and the school district primarily from the state.
"[The school district] is not in a nice fluid situation as some of the cities are," he said.
Rob Pierce, the district's Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Planning, said the first few schools the district built were all near existing pools. As more were built, the practice of renting pool space from other organizations continued.
"As time went on and we built more and more schools, I think the flat-out answer has been cost," Pierce said.
Pierce said in a previous job for another school district, maintaining a pool cost about $250,000 a year. He said renting pool space from local park districts costs the Elk Grove Unified School District a combined total of about $60,000 a year for all of its schools, and some groups don't even charge the district.
But sending kids off-campus to practice can create a headache for parents. Sams, the Piranhas board president, said every morning, his daughters practice at , a couple miles away from their school. After practice, they have half an hour to rush home, eat breakfast, change and head to school.
The routine can be a bit hectic–Sams said he once took his sons to school but forgot his daughter at the morning practice.
"She texted me and said, 'Where are you?' " Sams said.
Matt Johnston, an incoming senior at , welcomes the idea of more competition swimming facilities in Elk Grove. He said his school's swim team has to coordinate practice times at the Wackford Aquatic Complex with , and even when they get the pool, Franklin's dive team is practicing in part of it.
The Elk Grove City Council is expected to finalize its request for aquatic complex proposals in October.
Are your kids swimmers? Where do they practice and compete? Does Elk Grove need more competition-style aquatic facilities? Let us know in the comments section below.