A report in the Minnesota Department of Education has concluded that requiring every high school in the state to have a pool would be too expensive, encouraging schools to share facilities with communities, the Star Tribune reports.
Minnesota’s government was looking into the topic in response to several high-profile drownings over the past several years, the Star Tribune reports. The drownings spurred a conversation about the importance of swimming lessons and water skills to prevent youth drownings, especially within a state known for containing more than 10,000 lakes.
But providing swimming lessons for all public school students in the state would cost upwards of $550 million, the Star Tribune reports, based on a state group report prepared on request by members of the state government.
“I think the work group identified very early on that it wouldn’t be a practical recommendation to say all schools should have swimming pools and swimming instruction should occur in those swimming pools,” Minnesota Department of Education assistant commissioner Daron Korte told the Star Tribune.
The report recommended that schools partner with local community pools to try to include water safety in their physical education curricula.
But even that may be difficult, as some competitive swimming coaches within the state say finding pool space for their programs is an issue. Great Wolf Swim Team coach Dave Bentz recently started a fundraising campaign to bring the Olympic Trials warmup pool to the Minnesota city of Coon Rapids to serve what he says is a rapidly-growing competitive swimming population in the state that has outgrown the number of training facilities available.
Though Minneapolis does contain one of the nation’s top facilities in the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center – the pool that has hosted multiple NCAA meets and will host both Junior National and U.S. Open this summer – the University can’t fit in all of the club, high school, college and national meets that would like to use the facility. Bentz says a second major long course facility would help alleviate that burden.