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Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
CREATED: 11/18/09 by ajulia REPLIES: 96
morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 728
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/20/09 11:41 AM

Here was my email to DC Council and DPR contacts that Lisa supplied. It is larely a cut and paste from lisa's and feel free to cut and paste this as well:

Dear Council Members and DPR staff:

I am writing this email in regard to the proposed lane change from the 50 m configuration to the 25 yard configuration.
The estimates from High School swim parents on how many swimmers a 50 m configuration can accommodate are greatly underestimated and are intentionally misleading. The Wilson Aquatic Center was also built to accommodate the needs of the entire community, not just the high school. Also, one should question why the City at great additional expense built a 50 m pool when it will not be utilized as such. Surely a 25 yd pool was considered and rejected so that the entire community can enjoy the pool. What has changed?

DC has 8 indoor pools, 2 are therapeutic and 6 have lap lanes. 6 of the 4 lap pools are in NW - 2 of which have 50 m capabilities - but Takoma the other 50 m pool (Wilson of course being the other) is not configured for 50 m - but 25 yd - and has no intention of changing it to 50m. Wilson is an Olympic caliber facility and is therefore unique in the community and should remain as such. Also, 50 m lanes are safer lanes for lap swimmers (including the HS!) as they are wider and allow more swimmers to swim at different paces with a variety of strokes. It is unrealistic for HS team volunteers to switch the lap lanes after each practice and the Wilson Aquatic staff has admitted that they do not currently have adequate staff levels to switch the lanes on a routine basis.

The public did not receive proper notice of the DPR meeting regarding the proposed lap lane changes at Wilson Aquatic . The city nor the DPR do not have any data on the public's preference, but are prepared to kow tow to the loudest constituency - and not the entire public community that uses the pool on a daily and year round basis. If Ward 3 wants to accommodate short course (25yd) swimmers - it already has with the 3 other indoor pools in NW that are currently and permanently configured at 25yds. This compromise has already been reached.

ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/20/09 1:39 PM

For those who are interested in a USMS swim meet at the Wilson Pool, there is one on Sunday, Dec. 13th. Copy and paste below.

amcbride    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 40
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/20/09 2:01 PM

A reply from Mary Cheh. At least she acknowledges there are two sides. Please be sure to NOT boiler plate your emails to DC governemet. Politicians don't respond well to receiving tons of copies of the same message.

From: "Cheh, Mary (COUNCIL)" <MCheh@DCCOUNCIL.US>
To: "" <>
Sent: Fri, November 20, 2009 1:52:41 PM
Subject: Re: Wilson Aquatic Center Pool Configuration

Thanks for your note. The hope is that all users can be accomodated, that is that there could be different times and different days when the pool has 25 and 50 meter configurations.

morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 728
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/21/09 12:21 PM

Swam at Wilson last night (Friday 11-20) and spoke to several swimmers in my lane and adjacent lanes - none of which knew about the proposed lane change.

nbehappy's ravatar nbehappy    JOINED: 5/23/09    POSTS: 135
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/22/09 1:47 PM

DC Gov!

ashleynellis1's ravatar ashleynellis1    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 84
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/22/09 8:01 PM

Below is the latest response from Councilmember Cheh re the pool length issue, with my original message to her below that. Also, some additional emails of people involved in the issue.

From: Cheh, Mary (COUNCIL) <>
to "" <>,
"Hartsock, Ximena (DCPS)" <>,
"Zvenyach, Vladlen David (Council)" <>,
"Smith, Dee (COUNCIL)" <>

There is supposed to be a place for comments and feedback and I'm copying Director Hartsock so she can ask to have that made available. As for the lanes there is a solution being discussed that would have the different lengths available on different days (or perhaps parts of days) The idea is to accomodate all users, including for example, the Wilson swim team which competes in 25 meter contests and needs to practice at race distance.
Thanks for your note. I'm sure we can get to a reasonable solution that works for everybody.

From: Ashley Nellis
To: Cheh, Mary (COUNCIL)

Subject: Wilson Pool

Dear Councilmember Cheh,

I live in your district, at Wisconsin and Massachusetts. I am a regular swimmer, and was thrilled to learn that DC would have it's first indoor 50 meter pool at Wilson High School. I use it 3-4 mornings a week. I heard that the pool might be shortened to a 25 meter pool for some or all of the time. This is a bad idea--why build a 50 meter pool and not use it as such? there are several 25 meter pools in the area already.

I heard that there was a place at the pool where people could submit their feedback in the form of a survey. I was at the pool this morning and asked 3 different staff people about this and no one knew what I was talking about. Where can we submit our opinions, and when will a decision be made?

Public comment is necessary on this issue, and I understood this to be the solution after the public meeting last week.

Many Thanks,
Ashley Nellis

chad0022's ravatar chad0022    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 346
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/23/09 2:31 PM

Wow! I leave the country for a week and look what happens!!

Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed, called, and made the rest of us aware of this situation. I am currently working on my e-mails.

lisalisadc's ravatar lisalisadc    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 451
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/23/09 5:00 PM


Wilson AC has the pool surveys. There are 5 choices. You are asked to rank the choices #1-5 in order. No word on how long the survey will remain open.

I have a PDF of the Survey. Can someone on the board post the PDF? I think that you have to turn the surveys in in-person. But, then again they ask for your info. Can someone find out when they go to Wilson AC next? I plan to go Wednesday afternoon for a smashfest. Anyone care to join me?

-short course
-Combo #1
Sat/Sun/Mon/Tues: long
Wed/Thurs/Fri: short
-Combo #2
Fri-Mon: short
Tues/Wed/Thurs: long
-Combo #3
MWF 6-8am: short [this is when Wilson HS swims]
rest of week: long

Leave -
Zip code:

Keep sending feedback to DPR and the City Council. Pls go to Wilson AC and fill out the survey!! It does not matter where you live, either.


ajulia's ravatar ajulia    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 145
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 9:33 AM

I went to Wilson this morning and asked about the survey, and the employee at the front desk had no idea what I was talking about. He also didn't know anything about any lanes changing.

Lisa, can you please email the PDF to me? I don't think I am going to make it back this week, and not sure it would do any good if I did.

julia dot a dot nagy at gmail

chad0022's ravatar chad0022    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 346
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 9:56 AM

I went for a swim last night and filled out the survey. The two behind the desk were overwhelmed by the number of people filling it out – and had a stack about 1.5 inches high from 1 in the afternoon. Also, I saw 2 people come in, fill it out and leave. They said they hadn’t looked at them, but it sounded like most people wanted the longcourse.

Lisa, if you send me the pdf, I can post it

Amanda dot Chadwick at gmail dot com

nomisdc's ravatar nomisdc    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 621
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 10:07 AM

I'm going to go against the group think here and play devils advocate. That's right, board election or no, I stand by my principles :) As Hugh mentioned for MD, in VA it is normal for pools to switch from long course to short course and back by seasons. That is how we grew up as swimmers.
Is it such a difference in the open water whether you swam short course or long course? Really?

Frankly, the statement that because a lane is a foot wider it is 'safer', is just...I mean - please, it's frankly moronic - not you, the statement - sorry. I love you guys, but let's be reasonable. Swimmers don't attribute lane size to safety. If some knucklehead can't swim straight that's gonna happen no matter what the lane size. Learn to swim straight and in crowded conditions - that's the swimmer's answer.

Are we being 'responsible community citizens', or are we being 'crazy few runners and bikers who suddenly have to swim''? Does this make things better, or do we appear to be an invasive species to the swimming community? What is their perception of me when I say "I, Simon, am going to be here at 6 pm on Tuesday, change the season's pool configuration for me and my 5 friends, then change it back right after"?
The simple answer here might be to look at it from the swimming community perspective, and do what swimmers do: Learn flip turns.

amcbride    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 40
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 10:23 AM

Learn flip turns? When was the last time you did a flip turn in a lake, river, ocean?

And since I herniated a disk two months ago, I cannot flip turn, I cannot bike and I cannot run. All I can do is swim back and forth.

I am one of the last out of the water. Having swum in both, I can honestly say that I am getting better swimming in the 50m. I say stay with the 50m. I'm filling out my survey this evening.

siehndel's ravatar siehndel    JOINED: 11/25/05    POSTS: 1104
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 10:25 AM

From my perspective, while I disagree with his main point, Simon hit the nail on the head. If I could properly do a flip turn, I probably wouldn't care as much about 25yd vs. 50m. But I can't do a flip turn without shooting into another lane and I do really enjoy swimming in a 50m pool.

As it is, I've been driving over to Wilson pool from the Hill once a week when I'm doing my long swims. If you've ever tried to drive from the Hill to Tenleytown at rush hour, you'll understand exactly how much time I'm willing to sacrifice just to get to the long course pool. I was also swimming at HP in the dark on 50 degree Friday nights when that pool was still open in October. I really like long course.

Ultimately, if they are able to establish a schedule to accommodate all people, that would be awesome and well within the bounds of reasonable requests. I appreciate that they appear to be considering all sides on this without making a blanket change, no questions asked. At this point, I'm optimistic that they will be able to find a way to accommodate everyone. DC has the best public aquatics program of any city that I've lived in and that is something that I try not to forget.

Also, no matter what your stance on this point is, this has been a great discussion and really impressive to see DC Tri 'mobilize the troops' on this issue. I'm sure that even the former 2nd Lieutenant Hernaez has to appreciate the assault on Wilson Pool.

AndyJB444's ravatar AndyJB444    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 401
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 10:29 AM


I get what you are saying, but the logic is backwards in my opinion and from first-hand experience - atleast in comparing Wilson to Eastern Market. The constant I have found at both pools are swimmers who don't swim straight and/or don't follow common lap lane courtesy (there is a great swim etiquette poster I saw in the Wilson locker room and I have attempted to recreate below), the DIFFERENCE is the lane width. So, when passing someone who either won't let you pass them at the wall after tapping their foot OR is a bit "wild" with their stroke it definitely helps to have that extra lane width for reducing close calls with swimmers coming down the other way. Swim at Wilson and you will see for yourself...

1. A swimmer entering a lane being ‘split’ by two people (each swimming up/back on their own side) should be sure before s/he begins to swim that s/he alerts both individuals to the need to change to a ‘circle’ format (everyone swimming counterclockwise on the right side of the lane). Note: I'm not sure everyone who posts here knows that it is acceptable to split lanes with as many as five or six people.

2. Swimmers resting or otherwise waiting at the wall should stay far to one side of the lane.

3. Swimmers arriving at a pool should do three things before getting in the water: Make note of “Fast, Medium, and Slow” lane designations. Spend a few minutes observing and roughly timing the per-lap pace of swimmers already in the pool. Select a lane containing swimmers moving as closely as possible to the pace that one realistically expects to swim throughout his or her entire workout.

4. An overtaking swimmer should gently but distinctly touch the feet of the swimmer being overtaken.

5. Swimmers being overtaken should never stop in the middle of the pool, nor should they continue beyond the next wall.

6. Swimmers being overtaken should not attempt to speed up (or slow down) once ‘tagged’.

7. A lead swimmer who feels a touch on the feet from an overtaking swimmer, should continue to the next wall, then stop in the corner of the lane to let faster swimmer(s) past.

8. Swimmers enjoying a draft behind a strong lead swimmer, but who are just barely able to hold that pace should think twice before tagging the leader's toes and requesting to move ahead.

9. Overtaking swimmers should not attempt to swim ‘wide’ past a slower swimmer.
Be aware of how ‘wide’ stroke mechanics may impact adjacent swimmers.

10. Don’t ‘water-run’ or ‘aqua-jog’ in lap lanes—unless the pool is nearly empty.

ashleynellis1's ravatar ashleynellis1    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 84
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 10:38 AM

Simon and others weighing in,

despite my wish to keep the pool 50 meters some or all of the time, you raise a good point that's more of a process issue.

i view this issue of 50vs25 from the perspective of a DC resident who paid for the pool in part, and as a regular user of the pool. in that role, i want to express my thoughts on the matter to my council member and to the pool management. they have offered a way for me to do so.

it doesn't seem to be appropriate for DC Tri Club to have an opinion on this, and I don't expect the Club to express an opinion in support of or against. is that correct? I'm not saying you were doing so, Simon. It just raises the question, as does the instance of our fellow member identifying herself as a member of the Tri club in the news the other night when discussing the pool length issue.

If this is a matter of DC residents rather than the Club, perhaps we ought to move this conversation away from the DC Tri website so as to avoid confusion and, perhaps, anger among the club members? After all, this is not the opinion of DC tri members as a group, or the organization as a whole, but of DC residents and Wilson pool users.

if interested in discussing offline, perhaps we should do that so that boundaries don't become confused.

Thanks for reading,

my email is ashleynellis at yahoo dot com.

p.s. i love flip turns!

amcbride    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 40
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 11:28 AM

I disagree. DC Tri is a member of the community. Not just those of us who live in the district, but the club as a whole. We suppport the mayors youth activities, support the Nations Triathlon specifically and ITU if they come back. We're active in various running races in the city as well. The club should be vocal and active to help get our voices heard.

Going back up the thread a little - flip turns. I can't do them at all and even if I could, I am not allowed since I herniated a disk two months ago. I can't run or bike at the moment only swim. The opportunity to swim in a 50m has really helped my swim. Having such a wonderful facility, has helped me enjoy swimming. Keep it a 50m as much as possible. Work with both communities to allow the kids their 25 yd training, but let long course have their time also.

Can't we all just get along!

ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 11:36 AM

All great points from everyone! I have no hard feelings and I hopefully won't post anything to offend anyone. :)

The use of the pool can be related to the use of a hockey rink. Both pool time and ice time is valued. If the pool can take in more money by renting out lanes to swim clubs, then by all means they would probably switch to the 25 distance. Recently, there was an article in the news about swim club in Montgomery Co. and how their pool time is precious.

I'm not taking any sides, but I'm trying to offer some of the thinking of those who run the facility.

gwcrew2000's ravatar gwcrew2000    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 127
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 12:48 PM

If the only reason to switch to the 25-yard format is to accommodate the high school swim team, then they should make the changes for their practices and return it to the 50 meter set-up after each use. I find the time to change lanes a pretty poor excuse. Schools/colleges with a swim team and a water polo team need to remove lanes constantly, and my guess is the athletes at many of those schools are the ones who do it, not the pool staff.

If residents (outside of the high school team) want to swim on a short course, they have plenty of other pools to choose from. Anyone who wants to swim long course has to wait until Hains opens up in the summer.

Truthfully during the week I can go either way as workouts tend to be shorter, but on the weekend when I do longer workouts, it is nice to swim on a 50 meter course. I just feel that a 50m pool is rare to come by so when one is available it should be utilized as such.

ajm27's ravatar ajm27    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 142
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 1:24 PM

Wilson Aquatic Center is a DC public pool. It was built by taxpayers money and should be able to be used by all of its residents.

Whether we are part of DC Tri, Wilson Swim Team, a DC resident or none/all of the above, we need to recognize that decisions need to be made for the greater good. In this case, what arrangement works better for the most amount of people? I raised this point at the meeting and it complements exactly what Andy mentioned in his email. The longer, wider lanes DO allow for safer, more effective swimming.

I know the data suggests that they can fit more people in a 25 yard lane. Yet if anyone has swam at Wilson, you will quickly recognize that a 50 meter lane will accomodate more swimmers. The data does not take in to account many variables, mainly the speed and fitness of the users. I know there are lanes designating 'Fast, Medium, Slow' but my medium is different than Andy's medium and very different from the 60 year old's medium...Yet we are all swimming in the same 'medium' lane (sorry Andy!).

With wider, longer lanes, it allows faster swimmers to pass slower swimmers. Thus everyone, at all levels, is able to safely and effectively swim. The safety of the swimmers can be compromised with different levels swimming in the same 25 yard lane (plus throwing flip turns into the middle of it all).

Personally, I think a combination would allow everyone an equal opportunity to swim. I just got the feeling from the meeting that the pool manager and staff are not willing to make the changes to accomodate this compromise.

If you have not swam at Wilson, I would strongly encourage you to go and swim before making too many judgements and decisions. It is a fantastic pool and built with (our) taxpayer money to be a 50 meter pool. If this is intimidating to some or if you really desire to do flip turns, there are plenty of other options in the DC metro area.

I do have a copy of the survey that I picked up last night. Please let me know how to attach it and I can post it for everyone to see and fill out.

Lastly, I swam last evening and this morning at Wilson (both times with faster and slower people in my lane). Both parties that I swam with stated that I am getting stronger and faster. I can guarantee that it is NOT because of my flip turns :)

ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: Wilson Pool to Switch to 25-Yard Lanes?
POSTED: 11/24/09 1:45 PM

This discussion is great! I just love hearing the viewpoints of both sides. Let's take all of this motivation and put it to good use in December for the NCC.

Oh, and Lisa, I found the hidden idol so I can't be voted off the island.

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