Patience, all fans of Whitefish Bay swimming, there will be home meets yet this season - only not as soon as some had hoped.
The Blue Dukes had to postpone two projected home dual meets with Germantown and Shorewood last week because the portable bulkhead, a primary fixture in the $200,000 renovation project, had a manufacturer's defect and had to be withdrawn from the pool for repair.
"One of the seams had developed a leak, a manufacturer's defect," Bay Athletic Director John Gustavson said, "and so we couldn't inflate one of the (two) flotation bladders. That way, we couldn't move it into position."
This happened on Aug. 27, the day before the dual slated with Germantown.
It was to be the first meet in the pool under a reconfiguration made necessary by a new set of rules set out by the NFHS, the national governing body of competitive swimming. The rules mandated a minimum 4-foot depth for any block or pool deck starts, and Bay, in its old configuration, had only 3 feet, six inches of depth at the start and could only do in-pool starts which are much slower.
A group of Bay guardian angels called the Nebbish Society got the fundraising going on the new plan last winter. It did not call for Bay to expensively dig out and repair the pool but just turn the competitive portion of it sideways, having the competitors start from the much deeper (and therefore, appropriate) diving well.
The bulkhead will be used at the other end of this new configuration to create the necessary 25-yard standard pool length. It reduces the competitive lanes from eight to six, but Bay is still back in the business of hosting meets.
The effort was seen as a win-win for not only the high school programs but also the club swimmers and the area recreational programs.
But now people just have to wait a little longer.
The manufacturer's representative on hand tried a quick fix on the day the problem was discovered, but it did not work. A more formal repair was done on Aug. 28, but Bay had to postpone not only the Germantown meet but also the Aug. 30 Shorewood dual.
The postponements were caused because the specialized equipment needed to lower the 7,500-pound bulkhead into the water, two specially-constructed forklifts, were needed elsewhere and were not available.
"We now have to coordinate with the rigging company, and unfortunately they're based in northern Indiana," Gustavson said.
No specific date for the installation has been set and no dates have been set for the makeup of the meets. Compounding last week's problems, North Shore opponent Germantown does not have a pool of its own, and swims all of its meets on the road.
The next scheduled home meet is Sept. 18, a dual with Milwaukee Lutheran.
Gustavson is hoping people's patience holds.
"We're about 99 percent through with this project," he said. "It's like we've baked the cake, put the frosting on and then spelled 'Happy Birthday' wrong.
"Once everything is in place, everyone will see that the quality of experience we will provide will be just fine. It's just getting there that's the problem."
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