water polo

The Battle for the Broken Pool

Mar Vista parents and students want the Sweetwater Union High School District to fix their pool

NBC Universal, Inc.

The pool at Mar Vista High School in Imperial Beach may have seen its last water polo match and swim meet, and until it's replaced athletes may not have a venue to compete in.

The pool was built in 1966 and has been home to thousands of athletes and fond memories.

“It has been an adjustment, definitely,” said senior girls water polo player Annie Dickson.

Dickson and her fellow athletes are supposed to begin their new season Dec. 12 but their teams have yet to have a practice in the water.

“Yeah, it’s pretty different. I don’t like it,” said junior Fletcher Field. “We can only work out on land. Can’t even be near our pool.”

The Sweetwater Union High School District said it will build a new pool on the Mar Vista campus this summer.

“I’m definitely very frustrated,” sighed Dickson.

She would like to defend the school’s state title in their home pool this year.

“It’s a motivation,” she said. “It’s a resource to go to college. It’s the reason I’m going to college.”

The SUHSD said fixing the pool’s current problems would cost roughly $10,000. Annie Dickson’s mother, Dr. Kimberly Dickson, said the district promised to make repairs to the pool upwards of $50,000 until a new one is built.

“We’d like to hold this administration to that commitment,” said Dr. Dickson.

She added the city of Imperial Beach offered to pay $10,000 to repair the pool for this season but the district won’t accept. Dr. Dickson said SUHSD would rather spend upwards of $50,000 renting a pool for the students and teams elsewhere.

“I’m frustrated with their transparency. I’m frustrated with their math,” she said.

A district spokesman issued this statement to NBC 7:

“Our commitment since the beginning of this process was to keep the existing facility open as long as possible, including making repairs on the existing facility so long as those repairs would be effective and ensure safe continued use. Unfortunately, the time has come where, even with repairs made in the last couple of months, the existing facility must be shut down while we move forward in the process of building the new facility.”

A district spokesman clarified that an immediate repair to the broken back flush tank might cause more damage to the pool because the old pipes may not be able to withstand the pressure.

“I’m frustrated,” reiterated Dr. Dickson, who has repeatedly spoken with NBC 7 about the SUHSD’s budget decisions and plan to get students back in school.

“We need them to do what’s right for the kids,” she concluded.

Mar Vista High School is the only school in the district with a pool on campus. Other schools used to practice at Southwestern College. However, that facility is closed because of the pandemic.

The district spokesman said arrangements are being made to find a temporary pool for all the teams in the district to practice.

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