Pooling resources

The Reno Aquatic Club’s gaining a great rep even if it doesn’t have a regulation indoor pool

A swim coach leads a practice at the Moana Pool in southwest Reno.

A swim coach leads a practice at the Moana Pool in southwest Reno.

Photo By David Robert

Several dozen children and young teenagers gather on any given day at the Moana Pool in southwest Reno. Guided by Head Coach Dave Hoover, these swimmers—and the ones who preceded them—have stroked their way to national recognition.

In the 29 years that the Reno Aquatic Club has existed, Head Age Group Coach Ted Dorsey says that several hundred swimmers have been nationally ranked, including about 25 right now. The club has had two swimmers break American records and six qualify for the Olympic trials in 2000. Eight to 12 more women may qualify for the senior nationals. Julie Hardt, a Reno Aquatic Club prodigy, is ranked seventh in the world in the mile.

That’s pretty impressive for a club that doesn’t even have a regulation indoor pool to practice in.

The Moana Pool, while a decent facility for swimming laps and learning the basics, is too small. Competition pools must be in increments of 25 to 50 meters or yards. The Moana Pool measures 44 meters and so may not be used to host any tournaments or prepare swimmers for the size of pool they will use in competitions.

The Northwest Pool is the only available indoor pool in the Truckee Meadows that meets the 25-meter requirement. There is no indoor 50-meter pool in the area, forcing the Reno Aquatic Club to wait until summer to use Idlewild’s outdoor 50-meter pool.

“Right now we are finishing up the short-course season,” says Dorsey, a former Reno Aquatic Club swimmer. “Since we do not have a 50-meter indoor pool, our long-course season is really short. This isn’t the Bay Area, where we can swim outside all year.”

Not only is the aquatic club’s season cut short, but members are also forced to take a trip out of town for almost every competition—especially during the winter months.

Though constant swim practices are usually intended to prepare swimmers for meets, competition isn’t the only goal of the Reno Aquatic Club.

“Our mission is to provide a quality swim program for the community,” says Dorsey, who has been a coach for the club since 1998. “On top of that we focus on things like life skills, nutrition and race strategies. They are all facets of being a fast swimmer, but they are facets of a better person as well.”

Nutrition is definitely a key element for the club. When children start with the club, the coaches tell them a little about nutrition—what foods will help or hurt their swimming. But as they advance through the program, the coaches start working more with the swimmers to enhance their nutrition levels.

Along with the nutritional program, Dorsey says that much time is devoted to learning how to compete by practicing starts, turns, breathing and stroke technique.

But practicing techniques is difficult if the pool being used isn’t the same type of pool as those used in competition.

Up until this year, the Reno Aquatic Club had rented the Lombardi Pool from the University of Nevada, Reno, for some of its practices. This cost the club about $10,000 for five months, and the pool still wasn’t up to competition standards.

Dorsey and the rest of Reno’s swimming community hope that the pool situation is about to change. A $60 million bond on the ballot this November would give the Moana Pool a $15 million facelift that includes building a 50-meter, eight-lane pool to be used for competitions and training. The project, of course, hinges on voter support.

The public has looked kindly upon Parks and Recreation bonds in recent years, passing a $30 million bond in 2000 to upgrade libraries and build several hiking trails in the area. The fact that interest rates are currently low would lessen the impact on Reno’s homeowners. Initial estimates show the bond would cost Reno homeowners about $4 per month on a $150,000 home.

Nancy MacCartney, director of the city of Reno’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services, says public support for the project seems to be there.

“We did a citizens’ survey, and there was significant support for all of the projects,” MacCartney says. “Eighty-one percent said they are in support.”

The telephone survey, conducted in January, asked 400 registered voters about the proposed bond.

“They ranked the recreation center the highest,” MacCartney says.

A competition-size pool would also allow Reno to bid for year-round competitions, bringing the area some much-needed revenue. The area’s casinos surely wouldn’t balk at more conventions coming to town. And the aquatic club wouldn’t have to pay as much in travel expenses, like the ones it incurred in going to Minneapolis last month for a large tournament.

The project isn’t just about building a bigger pool. The entire recreation center that houses the pool will be drastically different, MacCartney says. Plans call for water slides, a lazy river, water toys and a family recreation area separate from the competition and lap pools.

The bond still has some hurdles to cross before being on the November ballot, including approval by the Reno City Council. Then, if voters approve the bond, MacCartney estimates that it would take about a year to finalize design plans and another eight months for construction of the facility.

If approved, the bond money would also go toward improvements on arts facilities such as the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts and the Lear Theatre. Various recreation facilities would also be improved, including baseball fields, basketball and tennis courts, BMX biking and skateboarding areas, Virginia Lake and Playland at Idlewild Park.