The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

New Pool Renovation Fails To Make A Splash

Gloria Kosir
The pool is clean and prepared to host the meet against Glenbrook North.

A pool renovation scheduled to begin Jan. 2, 2024, has sparked controversy among aquatics athletes, parents and coaches. The renovation plan includes new technology, bleachers, plus new mechanical and plumbing systems. Community members who feel the renovation plans fail to address the Niles West Aquatics program’s needs voiced their concerns at a Special Board Meeting Oct. 17.

According to West Athletic Director Dr. Dana Krilich, facility upgrades are approved by the D219 facilities committee, comprised of  board members, school administrators and district administrators. The committee voted to renovate the pool rather than expand or rebuild.

Natalie Doich, parent of a current aquatics student, argued that the 7.3 million dollar renovation is like “putting a new roof on a house with a crumbling foundation.” Doich was one of 9 people who addressed the plan slated to begin this winter, preferring a new, expanded pool over the approved plan.

Senior Mya Iusco noted that the pool is challenging during meets and told board members about cracking lane lines, sand on the floor, the taste of the pool water, jagged tiles and more.

Public commenter and sophomore Emilia Ryzewski shared concerns about crowding, noting that coaches split practices to accommodate one group of swimmers in the morning, another group in the afternoon and divers after that. Commenters also explained a practice rotation system wherein either the boys or girls swimmers are transported to North, and then the next day, they switch.

“Niles North may be the nicest pool in the CSL, and Niles West in my opinion is the worst,” boys and girls swim coach, Paul Torres said. “It is almost like we have a little car and we are putting spinning rims on it, and a spoiler, but the little car doesn’t fit the family anymore we need a van.”

As a coach, Torres sees the limited space as a key issue that reduces swimmers’ time in the water.

“Sometimes at practices, there are 10 to 11 people in a lane, so we have to let some kids go. [W]e do not have the space, and we have to make some room for everyone else,” Torres said.

In response to concerns expressed at the board meeting, Krilich sent a letter to aquatics parents outlining the timeline for the project and invited them to a listening session on Thursday, Nov. 2, from 5:30 – 6:30, where parents were able to give their feedback. According to the letter, all facility improvement projects are part of a 5-year plan; the West pool project was initially scheduled to begin in January 2022. However, it was pushed back due to permit approval by Illinois Department of Public Health.

Krilich also addressed public calls for a new pool: “While we understand that many of our Wolfpack families would prefer a new pool, we feel confident as an Athletic Department and Niles West school community that the upcoming renovations will positively impact our student-athletes for many seasons to come. In addition, we are fortunate to be able to utilize our sister school, Niles North’s facilities which provides a diving well and an all-deep pool for water polo. Having access to both facilities allows our aquatic programs to continue to grow and thrive,” Krilich wrote.

The next board meeting will be held today, Nov. 14.

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