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More groups to get access to Ocean View pool

Some complain that the OC Riptide Aquatics Club was shown favoritism over other swimming clubs.

March 07, 2012|By Michael Miller

Administrators at Ocean View High School plan to rent their Olympic-sized swimming pool to more groups after some in the community complained that the school had shown favoritism by supporting a club for which its aquatics director serves as a coach.

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FOR THE RECORD: The March 8 story “More groups to get access to school pool” should have stated that the Olympic-sized swimming pool at Ocean View High School was funded through Certificates of Participation, a debt-instrument program used by school districts to finance facilities improvements.

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Since the pool's opening in fall 2010, the OC Riptide Aquatics Club has been the only nonschool-related group to use it for practice. The club, which accepts members from Ocean View and other local schools, includes Melissa Fernandez, the head of Ocean View's aquatic programs, among its staff.

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That hasn't set well with some people who view Riptide's use of the pool as a sweetheart deal. Some also raised their eyebrows over a water polo tournament held at the Ocean View pool in February in which organizers used the facility for free in exchange for waiving fees for Riptide members who attended Ocean View.

On Feb. 24, a group of parents met with Ocean View Principal Dan Bryan and other school and district staff. After the meeting, Bryan said the district hopes to expand use of the pool to other groups.

He denied, though, that Riptide received any treatment that would not have been granted to another club.

"From my point of view, all we were interested in doing was making sure we had an opportunity for our students to swim," Bryan said.

Riptide pays the standard youth nonprofit rate for hourly use of the pool — $52.44 during the school year, $73.41 during the summer, according to Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, Carrie Womack.

Regarding the Winterfest Water Polo Tournament in February, Fernandez and Athletic Director Tim Walsh confirmed that the organizers struck a deal regarding entry fees. Walsh, though, said such arrangements were standard practice in the district.

Organizers for Winterfest could not be reached for comment.

Fernandez, who co-founded Riptide, said assertions of favoritism toward the squad came as a shock.

"It definitely surprised me," Fernandez said. "I wasn't aware of this going on until just a couple of days ago."

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