By Brad Spencer
OPRF High School suspended spring board diving in its East Pool last week after finding the pool's depth does not comply with new federal and state safety standards, according to school officials.
The diving board, used by nine divers on the swim team, was slated to be replaced on Jan. 6 with a new one. But the vender replacing the board notified the school it was not in compliance with the new standards that require specific distances to the ceiling and to the bottom of the pool in order to be approved for diving use, according to Kay Foran, OPRF's communications director.
To ensure compliance and remove concerns about any diving safety issues, the school removed the old board late Friday, as scheduled, and suspended use of the pool for diving, said Foran.
The school's pool was grandfathered in under the federal and state standards adopted in 2010, but the school found that the exemptions no longer apply in the event the measurements do not meet standards with the installment of a new board.
Foran said the school had engineers take two sets of measurements, with the pool full of water and empty, confirming that its measurements do not meet current standards to allow use for diving.
Diving practices have been moved to Riverside-Brookfield and Fenwick High Schools.
The two remaining diving meets this season scheduled to be held at OPRF, will take place at opponents' pools.
"It is what it is; we are without a board, so we will make the best of the situation," said OPRF head boys swimming coach Peter Quinn, who has been with the program for 20 years.
The group of divers, ranging in classes from seniors to freshmen, includes Ben Lewis, who is ranked No. 2 in the state. The senior scored OPRF's only points at last season's IHSA State Meet. He finished eighth overall (425.65) in the diving event.
"We are obviously disappointed with this development," said Athletics Director John Stelzer, "and the issue does raise challenges for next year girls' and boys' diving seasons." Short of digging up and deepening the bottom of the East Pool or raising the roof, the pool is no longer able to be used for diving under the new measurement specifications, he said.
Stelzer added that the diving program, headed up by diving coach Mark Pappalardo, is likely to continue next season and beyond.
"Mark has really done a great job of growing the program, and we will be having some serious discussions after the season about how best to support him, his program and our student divers," Stelzer said.
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