The Marathon High School swim team has a temporary solution to its lack of a pool. The Monroe County School District has rented two minivans for two months to transport students to the pool at Founders Park in Islamorada.
“We just hate to see kids who want to be in the pool not have an opportunity to do so,” said Jon Olsen, the head coach of the Coral Shores High School swim team. “If we have to share, then we are going to share.”
MHS Athletic Director Theresa Konrath credits the Monroe County School District for its support.
“They are helping us with the transportation expense, and we thank them for that,” Konrath said.
MHS Swim Coach Sarah Maschal said it still falls short of what the swimmers need.
“We need to train at least five days a week,” she said. “The best way to do that is training in town, so everyone can come to practice and we don’t waste time on the road.”
The school staff and swim team supporters are making the rounds asking for use of other Marathon pools, located at hotels or condo developments. Even City of Marathon Manager Mike Puto has made inquiries on the team’s behalf. For the past seven years, the Marathon High School swim team has trained at the Sombrero Resort. Now under the new ownership of Republic Investments, management has revoked the long-standing agreement.
“They are fearful that they can be sued, to which I say, ‘We’ve only been doing this for the past 15 years with no incidents,’” Konrath said, adding the swim team has a $1 million insurance policy that covers student swimmers.
Sunset Bar and Grille owner John Koch has offered the restaurant’s public pool for the team’s use. However, the pool’s shape makes it unsuitable for practicing flip turns, an important part of any swim race.
“We just need a pool for practice, not competitions,” said Konrath.
Maschal concurred. She said the team’s needs are pretty simple: a couple of hours a day for the three months of swim season which has already started and runs through October.
“And we can be very flexible,” she said, adding that the number of students who attend each practice or the time of day are all subject to negotiation.
At presstime, there are 30 students signed up to swim for Marathon High School. The Coral Shores High School swim team has about the same number of swimmers while the Key West High School team has about 50 swimmers. The CSHS trains at Founders Park facility in Islamorada and KWHS uses the Florida Keys Community College pool under the direction of Coach Lori Bosco. Marathon High School’s team is coached by Maschal and Assistant Coach Courtney Oliver, a former Division 1 swimmer.
“I am grateful that we have found a solution to get to the Islamorada pool, but I am concerned. It puts our kids on the road for two extra hours a day — traveling up and back — and it’s just hard to function that way,” Konrath said. “This will stunt the growth of the high school swim team.”