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Published: Tuesday, December 13, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

BOYS SWIM PREVIEW: Snohomish, GP swimmers still without a home

Despite passage of bond to build aquatic center, there remains no pool for Snohomish, Glacier Peak swim teams to call home

  • Swimmers on the Glacier Peak and Snohomish swim teams work out Friday afternoon in the pool at Gold's Gym in Woodinville. The two teams use the Woodin...

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Swimmers on the Glacier Peak and Snohomish swim teams work out Friday afternoon in the pool at Gold's Gym in Woodinville. The two teams use the Woodinville location to practice because they don't have their own pools to use. PHOTO SHOT 12092011

  • Rob Serviss, the Snohomish and Glacier Peak head swim and dive coach, talks to the swimmers during a practice Friday afternoon at Gold's Gym in Woodin...

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald

    Rob Serviss, the Snohomish and Glacier Peak head swim and dive coach, talks to the swimmers during a practice Friday afternoon at Gold's Gym in Woodinville. The two teams have used the Woodinville location to practice since Hal Moe Pool closed in 2007.

  • Sarah Weiser / The Herald
Ryan Fairhurst, an 11th grader at Snohomish High School, dives into the pool during a practice Friday afternoon at Gold's Gy...

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald Ryan Fairhurst, an 11th grader at Snohomish High School, dives into the pool during a practice Friday afternoon at Gold's Gym in Woodinville. The two teams use the Woodinville location to practice because they don't have their own pools to use. PHOTO SHOT 12092011

  • Sarah Weiser / The Herald
Jacob Knotek, left, a 10th grader at Glacier Peak High School, and Brandon Fairhurst, a 9th grader at Snohomish High School,...

    Sarah Weiser / The Herald Jacob Knotek, left, a 10th grader at Glacier Peak High School, and Brandon Fairhurst, a 9th grader at Snohomish High School, listen to assistant swim coach Christy Taylor during practice Friday afternoon at Gold's Gym in Woodinville. The two teams use the Woodinville location to practice because they don't have their own pools to use. PHOTO SHOT 12092011

It's been more than 4½ years since Hal Moe Pool closed its doors in Snohomish after a ceiling tile fell during an inspection. Since then, plans for a new aquatic facility in the city have been bandied about, developed, postponed, discussed, praised and ridiculed. Pretty much everything except for actually being built.
And meanwhile, the Snohomish and Glacier Peak swim teams continue to turn out and make the best of a situation that not many other teams have to deal with.
The Panthers and the Grizzlies, both coached by Rob Serviss, are teams without a home. Serviss said they are incredibly grateful to the Woodinville Gold's Gym for allowing his teams to use their pool for practice, but when it comes to meets, neither Snohomish nor Glacier Peak have had a home contest since Hal Moe closed.
"The most difficult thing is the kids don't feel like we have a home," Serviss said. "That's the toughest thing. We don't have a spot where we can post stuff, where we can put up banners, where we can really make it our place. It's tough to keep a sense of identity."
Earlier this year, the Snohomish School District suspended work on the aquatic center project when an analysis revealed that the cost to operate the facility could be at least $450,000 more than the revenue it would generate. The district has already spent $1.8 million on surveys, architects and soil studies.
Two years ago, voters approved a $268 million bond in which the aquatic center was a major component.
There is still no time frame set for when the facility might be constructed, or even where. While the money is there to build the complex, it needs to be able to support itself, including its maintenance, staffing and utilities.
So for now, Snohomish and Glacier Peak will continue commuting the 9 miles to the Gold's Gym.
"We're very grateful to have Gold's Gym," Serviss said. "There are a lot of schools that don't have a pool and our training situation is a lot better than some other programs. They give us a lot of time there, they give us a good schedule, they've been great to us. But the situation has been very difficult."
Snohomish won state titles in 2006 and 2007, but since Hal Moe closed, Serviss said it's been tougher to recruit and keep swimmers in the program. The biggest issue is that the students are responsible for transportation to the Gold's Gym. That means for kids not yet old enough to have a driver's license, getting to the facility is no easy task.
"Our numbers are getting smaller every year," Serviss said. "It's tough to get new athletes into the sport because the level of commitment, the transportation, it's higher simply because of logistics. Any young swimmers we get are guys who are already year-round swimmers who have known for a long time they were going to do high school swimming. But to convince a kid to try swimming, it's really tough to do in our situation. They might try when they're a junior or a senior, but by then we only get them for a year or two."
Serviss said that from a training standpoint, once the team actually gets to Gold's Gym, things go well. He admits that there were things at Hal Moe that the team could do that isn't available at Gold's simply because it's offsite, but he said overall the ability to train and improve at Gold's is not an issue.
"We just have to do it in a little different way," Serviss said.
There is a positive to the story, though. In much the same way as any group of people who go through adversity, the experience of being, essentially, homeless, has brought not only the individual teams together, but the two teams combined have grown closer.
"The people who stick it out are definitely close with one another," Serviss said. "We practice together, train together and it's really a blessing because the Snohomish kids and Glacier Peak kids really support each other. Whenever we go to a meet we feel like we're one big team. And so while it's not an ideal situation, that's something that's been really great to be a part of."


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Story tags » SnohomishSnohomish High SchoolGlacier Peak High School

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