The Clash of the Splash

Popular Wilson pool provokes battle over who gets to use it

The Wilson Aquatic Center adjacent to Wilson High School in Northwest Washington is a big hit. It's clean, it's well-run and it's a great place to exercise, bring the family or even learn scuba diving.  

The Olympic-caliber pool replaced a dingy, depressing complex. Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh lobbied to get it replaced quickly -- and it was. But now that the pool is open, it's become so popular that there's been a battle over exactly who uses it and how.

Some parents of Wilson High swim team members are grousing that the pool too often is not configured for the team's 25-meter practices and contests. Instead, there are only eight lanes that each are 50 meters. The parents say that the longer lanes were there because Mayor Adrian Fenty -- a triathlete -- wanted the long lanes for his training and those of other triathletes.

News4 asked the mayor about that on Wednesday. While he didn't direclty answer whether he wanted the long lanes, he said the pool is big enough for compromise so all swimmers can be accomodated during any week. (The mayor was maybe gingerly stepping around this issue because he recently was criticized for using police to accompany his bike outings.)

The D.C. Triathlon Club has come to Fenty's defense, saying the Wilson aquatic center is the only 50-meter pool available and must be shared. But the recreation department was finding it too involved to switch around all of the plastic lane guides. We're told the Wilson swim team offered to do it themselves.

Then News4 learned that Council member Cheh wrote a letter to the recreation department Nov. 2 asking that the lanes accomodate all swimmers, especially the Wilson High team.  Her letter did not address whether she thought the mayor was involved or not.

But all's well that ends well. 

When News4 contacted the recreation department Wednesday, we were told that the officials "had heard the complaints" and would be coming out any day with a new lane schedule.

So, everybody back into the pool -- just make sure you know the new schedule.

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