The Columbia Clippers epitomize competition. Not only does the Columbia Association-sponsored youth swim program compete against other programs in Maryland, it also competes against the rest of the Columbia swim community for the use of indoor pools.
But those battles could soon be eased by a new indoor pool.
At a CA Board of Directors meeting Jan. 9, consultants hired to explore building an additional enclosed pool and future options for SplashDown, said the first priority should be a new indoor pool.
“There is an immediate need for more indoor pool space,” Richard Klarck, an Aquatics Engineer with Williams Architects/Aquatics, told the board.
Stephanie Costello, chair of the Columbia Clippers’ parent board, agreed.
“We want an enclosure because it would alleviate some of the conflicts we have at the Swim Center and Supreme Sports Club,” Costello said.
According to Costello, the organization’s 11 practice groups, totaling more than 300 swimmers, share lanes with members of the public at the two facilities.
At the meeting, Klarck and Williams Principal Tom Poulos presented results and recommendations from two feasibility studies that were commissioned by the Aquatics Master Plan.
Klarck and Poulos said feedback from two public forums, along with other factors, led them to recommend building an indoor pool before renovating SplashDown, the aging water slide in Wilde Lake.
The board is expected to consider the recommendations as part of its 2014 fiscal budget.
Costello said a new state-of-the-art facility, which could go in Long Reach or Owen Brown, would provide benefits to the Clippers and the Columbia swimming community.
“It would be wonderful to have a brand-new facility to host our meets,” Costello said. “With a new enclosure, we would have one location we could call our own. It would be a great addition for the Columbia swim team.”
Clippers head coach and CA aquatics employee Jeff Scrivener said that if a new indoor pool was approved by the CA board, the Clippers would shift the majority of their activity to the new facility, opening up space at Supreme Sports Club and Swim Center for recreational users and other programs.
Scrivener estimated that the new pool would allow the Clippers, who have a waiting list of 50 people, to expand by 100 participants.
This past season, the Clippers had over 160 swimmers try out for the program, Scrivener said. The organization was only able to accept about 65.
“For the 10 years I've been coach, we've had a waiting list,” Scrivener said. “There seems to be an overwhelming need for an enclosure.”
Costello added that a indoor pool would allow the group to hold meets without going out of pocket to rent a facility. Currently, the group rents space from Howard Community College, a facility Costello described as less than ideal.
During the meeting, the consultants identified two of CA's existing 23 outdoor pools as locations for a new indoor pool; Dasher Green in Owen Brown and Locust Park in Long Reach.
At Dasher Green, the consultants recommended building a new indoor pool facility adjacent to the current L-shaped outdoor pool.
At Locust Park, the consultants recommended rebuilding an indoor pool on the site of the current outdoor pool.
According to Long Reach board representative Ed Coleman, the Long Reach village board is in favor of an enclosure. Owen Brown representative Andrew Stack said the Owen Brown village board has not made a recommendation, but that the majority of the community feedback is in favor of the facility.
Costello said the Clippers have endorsed the Locust Park site primarily because of its location.
Poulos and Klarck also presented findings and recommendations from the study that explored the future of SplashDown.
According to the presentation, SplashDown is no longer feasible to maintain.
However, Poulos and Klarck said the facility could remain operational for the time being if CA is willing to commit funds to repair the facility’s aging water slides.
Klarck also said that the 26-year-old family amenity, although it is “grandfathered” in, is not up to current code requirements.
“The building envelope is leaking, it doesn’t meet energy standards and clearance heights around the decks do not meet current building code. All these things need to be addressed,” Klarck said.
Regarding a future amenity, Klarck and Poulos recommended replacing the kiddie pool with a “spray play” and transforming the area occupied by the slides into a new family attraction.