Belmont Pool Closed; Men’s Pac 12 Championships Likely to Move Again

  41 Braden Keith | January 14th, 2013 | College, Featured, News

The historic Belmont Olympic Pool in Long Beach, California has been closed for the second-straight year, which means another likely reroute of the 2012 Pac 12 Championships meet.

On Thursday, January 10th, the City of Long Beach closed the pool indefinitely after a structural analysis found that the pool was “seismically unsafe,” meaning that even a moderate earthquake would cause severe damage to the facility.

The indoor pool is now closed temporarily for at least three weeks, meaning that the March 6th-9th Pac 12 Men’s Championship meet is in serious danger. After a three week closure, only affecting Belmont’s indoor course, the city will decide what the future of the facility will be in both the near-term or short-term.

This is the second-straight year that has seen a Belmont closure affect the Pac-12 Championship meet. Last year, the event was moved to East Los Angeles College, which while indoors and another mecca of the sport in California, upset some swim fans as it’s two boxed-in 25-yard courses, as compared to the behemoth 50-yard, bulkhead pools that fans have become accustomed to for big meets.

Those within the conference have hinted that UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona State are the front-runners to take over the new hosting, and that Federal Way is probably not an option, once again, because of scheduling conflicts, though there’s a chance of shifting the meet schedule to a different date and having it there. We reached out to the Pac 12 Conference for an official statement, but as of yet have not received a response. A conference call is scheduled for later this week to make the final decision.

The full statement from the City of Long Beach about the closure is below.

The Belmont Pool will be temporarily closed, effective today, due to a draft structural analysis that concludes the facility is seismically unsafe in the event of a moderate earthquake.

The City is acting in an abundance of caution for patrons and staff while City engineers review the draft analysis and inspect the facility to confirm the extent of its structural safety.

The temporary closure is expected to last approximately three weeks, and will only affect the indoor pool facility. After the review and inspections are complete,  a decision will be made to reopen or keep the pool closed. The outdoor pools, locker rooms, and adjacent La Palapa Del-Mar restaurant will remain open at this time.

City staff is working with the aquatics community to minimize disruptions and help to identify alternative options and facilities.

The seismic issue recently came to light as a result of the analysis currently underway related to the revitalization plan for the entire pool complex, which opened in August 1968. The City Council authorized staff to develop options to modernize the existing pool complex.

Within 30 days, City staff will present the City Council with long-term revitalization options that may include temporary solutions to restore pool access.

Comments

  1. MomoJamo says:
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    Why would the Pac-12 want to “reward” Federal Way by giving them the Mens’ meet when there isn’t a mens’ college team within miles from WA? Let’s keep the meet in the “true” Pac-12 by allowing a Pac-12 team who actually HAS a mens’ team the opportunity to make some $$$ from the competition. Same reason why they should never let UCLA have it either, but of course this is the Pac-12/NCAA where “no common sense” reigns supreme!

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      MomoJamo, I agree in some respects, hate to reward a school that cut a program, however that has to be balanced with “rewarding” the swimmers by putting them in the best environment. If it was just for a Pac-12 title, it wouldn’t matter as much, but NCAA qualifying is in play.

      Either way, sounds like FW is out of the picture.

    • WHOKNOWS says:
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      The Pac-12 has alternated between Federal Way and Belmont for years. This year the women are at Federal Way along with both men and women’s diving. Pac-12 schools alternated being the host for the event even thought it is held in Federal Way. Federal Way does not have a connection with University of Washingtonb… it is owned and operated by King County… Pac-12 has made a commitment to have their championship meets (all sports) at world class facilities on the west coast.
      The Pac-12 Basketball Championships is being held at the MGM in Las Vegas… again there is not a connection to any university.

      • PNWSWIM says:
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        Right on.

      • yomustbekiddn says:
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        Just because the PAC 12 has made mistakes in the past and has awarded University of Washington ie Federal Way with the Pac 12 meet dosent mean they should continue this folly.
        The UW is spending HUGE quan on their beloved football field and good for them but you would think they would break off a few million of hundreds of millions that have been are are being spent for a pool and possible even have a swim team

    • Jdswim says:
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      Make $$$ from the competition? Have you been to this meet? Only parents and alums in the stands and local age group and senior swimmers timing on deck. At least for now; this meet needs to happen in a place where time standards can be achieved, period. The pool rent and other costs are not recovered by the host regardless of location. Local clubs need to miss one workout and go to this meet, pay admission, and be fans for a day. One full day, as a Team. Prelims and finals. Even if only on Saturday. Coaches: give up one Saturday and let your swimmers be inspired. SoCal Teams have had the opportunity to do this for years on end and they just don’t show up. Nearly 20,000 registered swimmers and nearly no-one goes or even knows about it. The conference doesn’t market it to them, and they don’t market it to themselves. Their one quality indoor pool is now unstable and should have been replaced years ago. Unfortunately the few individuals who have tried (and they made great efforts) just didn’t get the $$$ or momentum needed.
      Let’s take the meet anywhere the athletes have the best opportunity to go fast while Long Beach figures out its future. It is such a great location, but the atletes need a pool they can trust.

      • MomoJamo says:
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        Um, yeah, and I realize it’s not big dollars (this ain’t football, and almost no swimming events make any $$) but it is something. FYI I have taken some SoCal age groupers to this meet, so some of us do “get it” and try to support where we can, but really both the Pac-12 and NCAA make it really tough to get excited about.

        Let’s face it folks, college mens’ swimming (and to a lesser degree womens’ too) is kind of a joke. Nobody else in the world swims SCY (only as a novelty and not very often) and the only time anyone cares about swimming is in the Olympic years (and newsflash, the times that count for that are NOT in SCY). College swimming doesn’t qualify you for ANYTHING other than conference meets (once a year, and the Pac-12 can’t even get that right) and NCAAs which, as far as mens’ teams go, is getting smaller and smaller and smaller……..due to the lack of programs who even still have mens’ teams. Of course, there are a few worldwide “novelty” meets (Short Course Worlds come to mind) but those aren’t nearly as big and well attended as the Olympics Pan-Pacs or World Championships – again mostly not SCY.

        The season is “officially” only a couple of months long and the $$ available to athletes who want to compete at the next level (up from club/age group) is shrinking FAST (despite what a certain college recruiting agency who regularly posts here looking for clients would like you to believe). Best thing that college swimming can say for itself is that it’s a pathway into a university that you might otherwise not have gotten into if it weren’t that you were “good” at a sport. Of course, once you get in, you have to make the grades or that won’t last long either (see SwimSwam story about Tyler Messerschmidt and Cal).

        Until the mass hysteria surrounding football in the US goes away, everything else is sloppy seconds at best.

        • swimdad says:
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          I am in a little late on this but University of Washington closed it D-1 swimming program to save about 1million bucks. Within 4 years they are spending 250 million to RENOVATE their football stadium. No thought to restarting the swimming program
          Seriously is there no way that the collective PAC 12 swimming community can approach the PAC 12 and request that a portion of the new found TV $$ go to schools who support the olympic sports. If we do not find a way to have a collective voice there will come a day that its only football and basketball.

  2. Swimma says:
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    Stanford’s pool is incredible of course it should be there.

  3. PositiveEnergy says:
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    In early March, Tempe/ASU 75 Hi – 44 Lo, Palo Alto/Stanford 64 Hi, 44 Lo… Hoping for warmer weather of Arizona that time of year…

  4. keepitfair says:
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    I vote for moving it out of Southern California – Hopefully the time pads will stay plugged in elsewhere. Maybe the best thing for the NCAA is to award this meet to a non PAC-12 team.

  5. jeantuehl says:
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    Thank goodness they are not contemplating using East LA (ELAC), as they did last year. That pool was great in the 60′s and 70′s but a very poor choice for modern swimming. There were no easement buffer lanes adjacent to lanes 1 and 8 with only a cold, hard wall. And a poor gutter system to boot. The sprint times were way off last year due to the extra turbulence. NOT A WORLD CLASS FACILITY at ELAC.

    There is a conflict with Federwal Way for the current men’s championship schedule, but I heard they were serously considering combining both PAC 12 women’s and men’s championships, which would be the week prior. Anyone else confirm or deny that?

    IMO the next best option would be Indy, if available, since the NCAA meet is already there. That would give the teams a good practice run in the same pool.

    Stanford is a great pool, but the weather can be very dicey up there. Arizona State may be the best bet for keeping it at a PAC 12 site, although, not optimal and weather could be a factor too.

    • Bob Roe says:
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      MPSF has the same issue again this year and even ELAC is better than swimming outside. The Federal Way,King County Aquatic Center is a world class facility and the schedules reflect it’s available from 2/18-21, but I’d imagine the costs associated with flight changes, and rental fees may make it prohibitive for MPSF.

  6. MomoJamo says:
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    The LAST place it should be is in Indy – the “Pac-12″ is in the “Pacific” region (which is what Pac means) so why on earth would they hold a “pacific teams” meet in the midwest? Sorry Jeantuehl, don’t agree with you there – it’s already bad enough we have to go to Indy for NCAAs.

    • jeantuehl says:
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      I hear you brother! The PAC 12 should have had a better indoor option available to them rather than relying too long on the aging, crippled Belmont. The high school state CIF cut all ties with Belmont last year and said they will never return. If you want to keep it amongst the PAC 12 teams, then ASU would be the less risky option, but with ample gas heaters and extra canopies for sure.

      I’m for combining the men and women at Federal Way myself.

      • PNWSWIM says:
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        MPSF should consider doing the same, especially since KCAC will give the swimmers the best opportunity to make NC cuts. Also, Seattle U has both mens and women’s teams in MPSF( unlike the PAC12).

      • MomoJamo says:
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        I have been to the Federal Way facility and it is a very good one, and I agree that the choices in the Pac-12 are abysmal when it comes to indoor facilities.

  7. HoiPolloi says:
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    I’d like to see the PAC 12 cough up some extra money from football/television revenue directly to the teams involved for travel. It’s pretty tough to stay on budget at the 11th hour with air, hotel, van changes.

  8. NLACSwimmer says:
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    Wonder where they’ll end up hosting it. Hopefully the Belmont Plaza Pool will be ok, it has so much fast swimming in its history.

  9. cynthiacurran says:
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    I like the East La pool, I actually did a best time but its not the best place and mention above it a bit shallow. Interesting I swam better in East La than I did in Belmont but I was never relax in Belmont. When I was a Senior in High School the East La Pool was new. California refused to built a new indoor pool since East La, part of it was the prop 13 that cutdown on the building of pools in the 1980′s forward but all new pools had to be outdoors. Belmont is 1960′s and news repair.

    • jeantuehl says:
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      Ancient history. Sure ELAC was good back then, but not anymore. Belmont has had its day also but with so much dithering from the City of Long Beach, it has never been maintained properly. Plenty of money in LB too from the harbor department, oil refineries, Boeing, etc and a HUGE amount of taxation too boot. No excuse.

  10. Barbara says:
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    I sure would like to see the men and women swim together! It’s so stupid that has not already happened. The number of PAC 12 men’s teams is dwindling!! It would add some excitement to both teams!! It would be a shame for the men to have to swim in any outdoor facility. It certainly dosn’t seem fair. Everyone has to change flights and hotel no matter what so cough up the extra hundred bucks it might cost to take it to FW!!

    • swimfan25 says:
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      I hope they keep the men and women’s meets separate; NCAA’s is separate and there is no reason to combine conference meets IMHO. The sessions would be long and/or days to the meet would have to be added. The goal of the conference meets is to get qualified for NCAA’s. The athletes don’t need prelim sessions lasting 5-6 hours with quick turn arounds for finals. I see disaster if they combine the men’s and women’s meets. Looks to me like they better get this decided so teams and fans can figure out hotel and flight schedules. I know most schools send out letters to professors at the first of each semester letting the professors know well in advance when travel meets, etc are going to be. Should they try and combine men’s with the women’s NCAA’s kids will be dealing with the stresses of trying to tweak schedules / tests, etc. It makes no sense to combine the meets on this short of notice. I’m think many of the professors would not be very flexible with last minute changes. Federal Way is the most logical option it seems to me.

      • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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        swimfan25 – King County is not an option, because there’s already a meet scheduled for that weekend, as noted in the post.

        • PNWSWIM says:
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          Braden, Why couldn’t they move the meet up a day and run it 3/5-8 ( Tue.-Fri.)? The only conflict I see is for Sat. the 9th.

          • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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            That’s not a bad suggestion PNWSWIM. I’m now being told that this is being considered…conference call later this week will confirm all.

          • jeantuehl says:
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            Braden should use his “chief swimming wonk” leverage to good use by pressing the PAC 12 on this option (March 3 to 8th) and talk some sense into them. Or move it with the women during the prior week. Surely, they can’t be serious about Stanford and the distinct possibility of bone chilling cold and rain? ASU would be better than that.

          • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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            It sounds like this is what they’re leaning more and more toward, driven by the coaches. Either co-scheduling with the women, or running Sunday-Wednesday right after the women.

        • WHOKNOWS says:
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          King County has an event almost every weekend during the year (minus August and September). Pac 12 has been considering that FW be the permanent site for both men and women’s swimming… however, there is opposition to that scenario.

  11. jeantuehl says:
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    Is today the PAC12/coaches conference call? Will there be a decision by the end of this week? I need to get my Parisian rain gear ready, if traveling to Seattle.

    • Braden Keith Braden Keith says:
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      Pac 12 responded with an official statement…fairly vague. They will decide “in the next few weeks”.

      We’ll have to see…

      • Swimming says:
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        Any thoughts about the other conferences that have meets there? I know Pac-12 is apparently the premiere event, but I do believe that there are also several conferences that also use the Long Beach pool that will probably be relocated.

        SCIAC (D3), and I know PCSC (D2) had their conference championships in Long Beach for February as well.

      • iSwimCoach says:
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        I’ve been told that the Pac12 meet is going to be at Arizona, the MPSF meet will be at East LA College, and the SCIAC meet will be at South Gate. I haven’t heard yet where the PCSC meet will be. However, the Pac12 web site still shows the Men’s meet at Belmont, and the Arizona web site shows both Women and Men at Federal Way, with the Men’s meet to start the day after the Women’s meet ends.

  12. iSwimCoach says:
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    While most of the comments on this article concern the Pac12 meet rather than the closure of Belmont, I’d like to add a few comments about the pool, and what is happening there. Most of the comments here about the conditions at the pool are right on. I live in Long Beach, and have been swimming at Belmont since it first opened. It is a shame that the City of Long Beach has allowed this once fantastic facility to become almost unusable for competitive swimming. City officials and staff did present a plan to some of the stakeholders on Jan. 10th. Their short term solution is to put a temporary 50-meter pool in the parking lot area, but according to staff, even that will take 3-6 months to accomplish. The long term solution they presented completely shocked us all. They want to put in 2 50-meter pools, with the competition pool to be outdoors, and the recreational pool to be indoors. They also said that even the competition pool would have to have a shallow end for recreational purposes. Their claim is that the California Coastal Commission will require this in order to give their approval for the project. I set up a Facebook page that night: (www.facebook.com/RebuildBelmontPlazaOlympicPool), and have and will post information there as it becomes available. Also will have a stakeholder meeting on the 24th to plan our strategy for trying to get this iconic faciity, to my knowledge the only facility of its kind in the country located directly on the beach, rebuilt to once again be able to host all the meets you all have mentioned here. We’d like your support in this endeavor! Thank you all!

  13. Jill Brown says:
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    Looks like PAC 12′s at Federal Way Sunday Monday Tuesday right after the Womens meet.

  14. PNWSWIM says:
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    When’s the PAC 12 Men’s Last Chance Meet?

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