Diving suspended indefinitely at OPRF

Replacement of old board sparks discontinuation


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By Brad Spencer

Sports Editor

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.

Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

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Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: January 19th, 2012 2:44 PM

I'll tell you what's "ridiculous." What's "ridiculous" is to suggest that "all" that's wrong with the OPRF pools is the problems with diving. Those pools are too narrow and too short (laid out in yards, not meters) for modern competition. Spending money to deepen decrepit, outdated pools would be a huge waste of money and no more than a bandaid. The suggestion that OPRF divers should compete off campus in perpetuity shows a certain unseriousness, IMO.

OP Rez  

Posted: January 19th, 2012 12:55 PM

Let the divers dive and practice somewhere that meets regulations. Simple. Swimming and polo continues. End of story. Building a new pool just for diving is ridiculous!


Posted: January 19th, 2012 11:34 AM

I meant Proviso East for Chris M. At one time Illinois HS diving was one of the most competitive in the country. Numerous divers went on to NCAA honors. It's hard to comprehend how regs have added to the decline of what was once a proud tradition of Dick B. of Evanston, Arnie C. Of New Trier, Wayne O. of Arlington Hgts., Brian V. of Sandburg and so many others.


Posted: January 19th, 2012 11:26 AM

How ironic. In the late 70s and early 80s Fenwick divers came to practice and be coached at OPRFHS. In those halcyon days of WSC diving, divers from Morton West under the coaching of Jim W., Fenwick, and Proviso West coached by Chris M. gathered at OPRF's WEST pool and turned out numerous state placers. In fact one year, three of the state's top six divers came from the WSC. Spectators used to come for the diving shoot outs. Skipper W. (1st HC), B.Scotty (2nd)OPled the pack at state, and in 8ft

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: January 18th, 2012 3:58 PM

I was not attacking, merely pointing out that the point of this discussion is the obvious inadequacy of the pools at OPRF--pools which clearly need to be replaced. The status of other pools in the villages, especially those in the privaate sector, is irrelevant to this discussion. What is important here is to understand just how bad things are at OPRF and to insist that something be done about it. The status of the pool at Gold's Gym (or anywhere else) is of no import in that context.

Swimming Fan in Oak Park  

Posted: January 18th, 2012 9:56 AM

Uh, not is it NOT "way off point". Obviously you missed the point. The point is that the pools and diving programs are being stopped at OPRF and all the aforementioned because they are cutting costs. Wet facilities unfortunately cost more money to maintain as sad as I am to admit it. Just because you care to express your opinion doesn't mean that others don't have the same right. No need to attack.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: January 15th, 2012 4:43 PM

Let's see if we can't stay focused on the problem here--the total inadequacy of swimming facilities at OPRF. It isn't about Concordia, Fenwick, Ridgeland Commons or even the 19th Century Club. And it isn't about the cost of one or two measurements. It's about OPRF upgrading the facilities so the kids can compete on an even footing with the kids at other schools. And the pools are just the beginning. I mean no disrespect, but all whining about pools in private health clubs is, way off point.

Swimming Fan from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: January 15th, 2012 2:58 PM

One by one all the "wet facilities" once considered so popular are being dropped. Not just at schools, this process started with the health clubs that went from full service facilities with pools, saunas, steamrooms, complete locker rooms TO NOW only offering the warehouse style of gym. For those who are swimmers, your only option now is to go jump in the lake. Literally. PS Ridgeland Commons closed down 2 weeks ahead of Labor Day this summer. Answer: stop hiring only college kids!

OPRF Achievement  

Posted: January 15th, 2012 8:27 AM

@Parent we want and deserve transparency and answers. The School knew about this new regulation back when the pool underwent repairs last time? Or Did they? If not why not? Not a big fan of all these regulations - but the School administrators have to "swim" in the environment they live in. Look, the physical plant is GREAT, love it - and its character, yet it demands 100% focus due to its age and uniqueness. They have the funds, but for some unexplained reason - they lost focus. Why?


Posted: January 14th, 2012 10:33 PM

What exactly do you want? Why build a new pool when the one we have is quite useful and functional? Prior to this new regulation, diving would take place at all the meets.


Posted: January 14th, 2012 9:54 PM

It's slightly annoying to see just how neglected the OPRF aquatics teams have been in the past decade. All the money that the school uses for sports gets dedicated to the football team, which hasn't had a winning record in god knows how long. The swim team and water polo team for that matter have been on a upward trend for some time and are consistently ranked higher then football, but get shown no respect. Its very frustrating.

OPRF Achievement   

Posted: January 14th, 2012 8:21 AM

OPRF Needs Facility Management mindset. The staff and Board (yes residents of the community) need to admit there is a real problem with the physical plant - and put a plan together (5-10 years) to correct this Gap that has been going on. Gee, anyone ever wonder if they have lapsed on the Pools - guess what corners are being cut in the classrooms? Totally Unacceptable for our Community.

Jerry Hudson from Phoenix  

Posted: January 13th, 2012 7:25 PM

How much of a laughing stock does OPRF have to become before steps are taken to upgrade the swimming facilities? It'll be expensive, but it's long past time. It's certainly not fair to the kids, who work like mules, to compete in facilities that are generally way below the modern standard. I know there was discussion on this point a couple of years ago and nothing was done. Well, it's time to do something, now. There are other upgrades needed in the field house, but the swimming pools are #1

Oak Parker  

Posted: January 13th, 2012 4:38 PM

This is sad news! Also, one by one our swimming opportunities have decreased. Recently, Concordia closed its pool completely, which annoyed many, many users who attended classes and took swimming lessons there. The pool at Oak Park Hospital has been closed for some time. The pool at Fenwick is not available to the public. Life is getting narrower by the day.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: January 13th, 2012 2:22 PM

Good question,Roger. It would be a shame if the diving program cannot continue at OP-RF. Is there such a thing as home pool advantage?

Roger French from Oak park  

Posted: January 13th, 2012 1:35 PM

"the school had engineers take two sets of measurements, with the pool full of water and empty"????? So, how did the two measurements differ, and how much did this exercise cost??


Posted: January 13th, 2012 9:11 AM

nice of fenwick to let the team practice there.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: January 13th, 2012 8:12 AM

With the weather we have had this winter (prior to yesterday), the team could have probably used Ridgeland's outdoor pool as well. Maybe by the next meet...


Posted: January 12th, 2012 9:24 PM

$ 80 Million $

OPRF Achievment  

Posted: January 12th, 2012 8:53 PM

OPRF Goofed UP Big Time! They have not had the Proper focus on Tip Top Facilities for some time, since a key staff person retired. Part of the Blame can go to Ms. Witham - CFO of OPRF. She is the one that has overseen and really directed the Board to ramp of the kitty to now over $85 million of OUR money - as the Stockholders of the High School. We need to demand Better. They also did not replace Jack Lanenga when he retired - who oversaw making facilities Right. What Gives Ms. Witham?


Posted: January 12th, 2012 7:31 PM

Ridgeland pool needs to be overhauled but that is up to the park district and how they wish to waste our money. And talk about eye sores....Ridgeland is the epitome of an eyesore.

Seriously Now  

Posted: January 12th, 2012 7:28 PM

And then, how about, we add a new indoor tennis court on top of the field house, take away the football field and add more parking spaces for the students who drive to school, and make the baseball field a new indoor pool and just put the diving board on the backstop. It would raise taxes in Oak Park by 743% but it would prettier and more inviting for other schools to come for meets and games. Would that work?

DDC from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2012 6:53 PM

T.J. - yes but it was drain related and only to meet new code. For those who have visited the OPRF pools, they are an embarrassment to the entire conference. Even schools with the same vintage buildings have better facilities. How about a whole new Athletic overhaul at the south building? How about enclosing Ridgeland and making it a community pool? OP has State and National level swimmers - let's build a healthy community with pride!

T.J. from OP  

Posted: January 11th, 2012 7:39 PM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the school just pay big money to redo this pool? You would think this is something that would have been addressed in advance of the construction project.

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