Peters Township High School swimmers and divers would like to continue practicing and competing in their home pool for as long as possible.
While school district officials hope to accommodate them, alternatives are being sought in the event of a “worst-case” scenario, according to Superintendent Jeannine French.
During Monday’s school board meeting, she addressed concerns about the possibility of the pool being closed as early as January to allow for construction to proceed in the current high school’s transformation to the new location of Peters Township Middle School.
“One of the things that we have to look at is construction schedules. We’re on a very, very tight timeline for the middle school conversion project,” French said. “That being said, it does not mean that it cannot be modified.”
High school students and staff members are scheduled to move to their new building in January. While much of the school is nearing completion, the natatorium will not be ready for the 2020-21 swimming and diving season, which begins Nov. 20.
“We would like to ask for the pool to remain open all of February for our postseason swimmers to be able to practice, to go to WPIALs and states,” resident Sheryl Langlois said during the comment portion of the board meeting, referencing WPIAL and PIAA championship events. “But at minimum, we really need our pool to remain open until Feb. 11, that last home meet.”
Langlois, who serves as president of the Peters Township High School Swim and Dive Boosters, spoke about the success of team members both athletically and academically
“Are we supposed to tell those kids that we are opting for construction of the building versus their season? It just doesn’t seem right,” she said. “If we would start our season in our high school pool at Peters and then have to go to another pool midseason, we’re going to take a few steps back on all of our progress that we’ve made in the season thus far, because we have to get used to another pool.”
District administrators have looked into the possibility of a temporary location for swimming and diving, should the need arise.
“I think it would be irresponsible for us not to look for alternatives, because there may come a time when we cannot be in that building. The construction schedules are very complicated, and things happen. COVID happened. Ideally, we would have been in our high school pool,” French said about the delayed opening of the new natatorium.
“We just have to make sure that we’re allowing enough time,” she continued, “because the middle school project is not a project where we can move in the middle of the year, like we had the opportunity for the high school project.”
Ryan Rose, a senior team member who is a three-time WPIAL qualifier in swim events, also offered comments at the board meeting.
“Coming off a section title-winning season, the swimmers deserve a fair chance to defend the title that we worked so hard to earn,” he said. “Our swim team seniors want nothing more than one last, consistent swim season, to have Senior Recognition Night and to compete in front of our families in our home, the Peters Township High School pool.”