Swim Team Out at Lake Ridge Swim Club
LAKE RIDGE, Va. — A time of triumph and excitement for the Lake Ridge Lancers swim team turned into frustration and confusion for team families after they learned their team is no longer welcome at the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club.
Their home of 40 years, the swim club decided to cut ties with the team following the Lancer’s divisional championship win last week.
The Lake Ridge Community Swim Club opened its doors in 1970, and the swim team followed close behind, establishing themselves in 1972. But in a July 25 meeting of the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club Board, officials decided they would no longer host the team.
Parents and swimmers were surprised, as none of them were notified of the vote taking place until after the decision was made.
“Basically, we finished up our season on Saturday the 28th, and we won. We celebrated our banquet on Sunday and that evening, we got an email from the President of the [swim] club saying that they could no longer host us. There has always been some contention between the team and the club, for years and years. I don’t know if it’s a lack of communication, or personalities – I just don’t know,” said Lancer Swim Team Vice President Lori McDonald.
A previous statement from the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club noted the Lancer’s growing size as a concern. Swim club president Patty Parker today stated the strain on their facilities is also a problem.
“Many of our concerns have been typical of hosting pools – use of the lanes during common use time, delayed opening on days of swim meets, etc. There have been several issues that the swim team has resolved this season for which we are very appreciative. We are hoping to move forward from this point and work together to negotiate a contract that meets both the needs of the swim team and swim club,” said Paker. “The growth of the team has less to do with the number of swimers than with the demands on pool facilities to accommodate them. We are confident it can be amicably resolved.”
Perplexed by the swim club’s concerns that the team was growing too large, McDonald took a look at their numbers.
“I went all the way back to 2004, I have records dating back to then, and I can tell you that our set numbers in 2012 for this year we had about 190 swimmers on our competitive team: last year, we had about 190 swimmers. In 2010, 190 swimmers – in 2009, we had 190. In 2008 we had 180, in 2007 we had 184,” McDonald said.
Russ Vogel, the team manager, league representative and a Board member of the Swim Team, feels that this is really the outcome of many years of tension and conflict between the club and the team.
“For 15 years there has been serious tension, and the swim team has always contributed money toward our use of the pool, but more importantly what I think the current swim club underestimated is the amount of swim club members that come there because of the swim team,” said Vogel.
Vogel said the club Board in 2007 decided to remove one swim club Board member position, effectively removing the team’s ability to have a say in decisions made at the club.
Facilities upkeep and the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club’s finances also play role in the decision.
“Now and in the past, the members of the swim team could be members of the club or non-members. The non-members of the club have been allowed to swim on the swim team and they’ve always paid an extra fee. We charge $25 for the first non-member child and cap it at $50 a family. Although we charge a non-member fee, it has not always been given to the pool. A couple of years ago [the club] asked for a financial contribution from the team, and we had no issue with that. Two years ago it was about $2,000; last year it was about $2,000. This year, it was $3,500 and we gave it to them,” McDonald stated.
“It’s all about the money. The club has for years not been managing the activities of the club well; membership has continued to decline. They have, for years, neglected the facilities, have not invested in the long term projects that would make that club exciting and interesting for new members. They always counted on us – the swim team – to bring in the new blood. We have, for 40 years, been successful in doing that,” said Vogel.
Aside from what the reasoning for decision may be, it has left the entire Lancer community feeling hurt – especially the children on the team.
“My kids – they’re heartbroken. This is our first year on the team and recently, on the rainiest morning ever when we driving to practice, [my daughter] is in the backseat saying she can’t wait to sign up again next year,” said Jenni Booth, whose daughter, Maisy, swims with the Lancers.
“It makes me sad: even though I’ve been on the team for only this season, I’ve made a lot of friends, and I hate the thought of us all having to split up at different pools,” said Maisy.
An emergency meeting has been called by team members for Monday evening where options will be discussed with the Board. The Lancers are far from giving up, and they want the Board to know that there will be an impact on the club because of this decision.
“We’ve been members of the Lake Ridge Community Swim Club for about 6 years. This was the first year that our daughters joined the Lancer’s swim team and it was an outstanding experience for both of them. The camaraderie of the Lancer community reinvigorated our interest in the swim club,” said swim team parent Jason Booth
The Lancers said fees charged by the swim club have risen in the past year and that the team in June began looking fro another place to hold its events.