Prep Sports

Opinion: Liberty needs its own high school swim program

HS journalism: But right now there are too many obstacles

There are plenty of swimmers at Liberty High School, but getting its own team is not feasible at this time, (The Gazette
There are plenty of swimmers at Liberty High School, but getting its own team is not feasible at this time, (The Gazette)

NORTH LIBERTY — The dream of having a complete Liberty High School athletics program is getting closer to reality.

But when will Liberty have its own swimming and diving teams?

Boys’ swimmers and girls’ swimmers and divers compete in a shared program with Iowa City West. With many successful swimmers coming from both schools, the combined teams had plenty of depth and skill.

If the Liberty girls had split from West in the fall, they would have had a roster of eight swimmers and four divers. Twelve athletes would not be able to fill out an entire varsity roster.

But, West girls’ and boys’ swimming coach Byron Butler said, the Liberty girls could have performed just fine individually — and some could even make it to the state meet.

“There are some that could still qualify and score at the state level,” Butler said.

If the Lightning boys formed their own team, they would have a better chance at team success. Twenty-five boys from Liberty are competing for the combined team. There’s also some individual talent among the Liberty contributors.

The bigger question right now, however, is where Liberty would call home. West teams practice and compete at the Coralville Recreation Center.

“At this time, we do not have our own facility and the current locations are not able to handle another team,” Liberty activities director Mike Morrison said.

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One option, at least for practice, could be the North Liberty Recreation Center. The indoor pool has multiple swimming lanes for recreational use. The North Central Junior High boys’ and girls’ teams use the pool now. High school swimming, however, has different requirements.

“Modifications to the pool would have to be made in order to host Liberty (meets),” Ashley Bjork, the rec center’s aquatic director, said. “The indoor pool doesn’t have starter blocks for all six swim lanes and the pool is 25 meters long, versus the needed 25 yards.”

Another problem is availability. During regular facility hours, the pool is constantly being used by the public. In the afternoon, the pool hosts swimming lessons, which would prohibit a team from practicing after school.

Right now, the idea of a Liberty swim program isn’t a main agenda item because it just wouldn’t work out. Hopefully, in the future, when facility availability is possible, a program can take shape.

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