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Public pools in Salt Lake County closed to teams, open to public

By Ashley Moser, KSL TV | Posted - Nov. 25, 2020 at 1:44 p.m.


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HERRIMAN – Swimmers from high schools across Salt Lake County are upset with the mayor's decision to keep COVID-19 restrictions in place at public pools.

When the state altered its public health order on Monday lifting rules on extracurricular activities, the student athletes assumed the county would follow suit. Now, many of them are left without a pool to practice in.

The restrictions impact about a dozen swim teams that don't have their own pools.

School districts have contracts with county-owned facilities like the JL Sorensen Rec Center in Herriman. Extracurricular activities remain on hold in Salt Lake County, which means teams are not allowed to practice at the center.

However, if they pay, then individual athletes can technically use the pool because it is open to the public.

To many of the swimmers, the restrictions don't make sense.

"(It's) just really, mentally confusing," said Herriman High School swimmer Joseph Goldhardt. "… I pay $7 (per practice), so I just keep adding and adding, so I just got to the point that I didn't want to pay all this money."

For weeks, the high school swimmers have had to be creative and figure out a way to practice.

"I have had to go by myself and swim rather than going with the team," said athlete McKella Leeper. "In order to get the same amount of practice as I would have with the team, I've had to go and reserve two separate times – one before school and one after school."

Swim coach Michael Goldhardt said the policy is unfair, and if the public can swim at the rec center, then the student athletes should be able to as well.

JL Sorensen Rec Center in Herriman
JL Sorensen Rec Center in Herriman (Photo: KSL TV)

"This has been a full on, 'Sorry, you can't practice as the high school, but you are more than welcome to come spend your money here,'" he said. "Every day out of the pool is a big deal, and so I'm really concerned about this."

With the season now just starting up, with competitions a month away, the swimmers said they hope the mayor's office reverses the decision.

"My hope is that we can just get back in the water and be able to do what we love," Leeper said.

KSL reached out to the Salt Lake County Mayor's Office and received a statement that said, in part, "Due to the incredibly high case count, additional restrictions were place on use at all county-owned venues. We will continue to review data and upon declining cases, we will ease restrictions."

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Ashley Moser

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