A portion of the decades-old Piedmont Swim Team is breaking away from Piedmont pool and re-establishing at a new pool complex in Albany.
Piedmont Swim Team president Leslie Pannell explained that a portion of the team, approximately 15 swimmers, opted to move because most of that group live in Berkeley or Oakland, in closer proximity to Albany.
The drawback? Piedmont Swim Team's two coaches will leave Piedmont at the end of summer to manage the new team in Albany. Amanda Garcia, former Piedmont pool manager, is now manager for Albany, another draw.
"Now we're looking for a new coach and assistant coach for Piedmont," Pannell said. "We loved our coaches and hate to see them go."
Pannell said historically the team has held summer practices in other places, such as Mills College or El Cerrito, because of lack of water space during the summer, when the Piedmont pool is heavily used for swim lessons, pass holders and recreational swimmers.
Recreation Director Mark Delventhal admits that water space is limited for all user groups at times due to high demand and an aging pool complex. The city took over pool operation July 1, 2011 after talks broke down with former operators of the Piedmont Swim Club.
Since that time, the city's had a delicate balancing act trying to maintain revenues to support the pool while accommodating all the user groups.
The swim team is able to do morning workouts from 6:30 to 8 a.m. weekdays
The team was able to get three, sometimes four or five lanes to practice in the offseason, Pannell said. They hope to maintain that arrangement, she said.
The city is in negotiations with the Piedmont Swim Team to extend its lease until at least the end of the year. The current agreement expired on June 30.
Last fiscal year, the swim team paid $16,500 to the city for pool use, about 3,000 hours of water time at about $5 to $6 per hour, Delventhal said. The Piedmont school district gets to use the pool for free for its swim programs.
Delventhal said fees could rise slightly for the new negotiations.
"We'll try to offer them the same water hours and work with them," he said. "They are an institution in Piedmont. The last thing we want is to lose them."
Pannell said of the some 99 Piedmont Swim Team members staying, a few will be lost to attrition.
"So we'll probably have spots for 10 to 15 new members," she said.
In the past year, all four Piedmont swim teams finished first in league.
"Mark and his team are working their darndest to come up with a good solution. We have a good relationship with the recreation department," Pannell said.