RIPON – They are fish out of water, forced to find relief at high school swimming pools not their own.
The Ripon High water polo and Ripon Aquatics swim programs have been locked out of the Ervin Zador Aquatics Center for more than two weeks now as maintenance on a broken pump stalls.
A corroded propeller caused the 10-year-old pump to break on Sept. 18, said swim and polo coach Erik Zador, son of the center’s namesake.
Parts have been ordered at a cost of approximately $16,000, but the pool isn’t expected to reopen until Thursday, Oct. 10, at the earliest.
According to Ripon High athletic director Chris Johnson, an outside agency will rebuild the pump.
The closure has created a logistical nightmare for Zador, who oversees the high school swim and water polo programs, as well as the year-round youth swim team.
For starters, his water polo program went four days without pool time following the mechanical failure.
The Indians returned to the pool (at Oakdale High) on the eve of their season opener at Sonora High on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Zador said rust showed in the boys’ one-goal victory over the Wildcats.
“It took a long time to get going; a long time to function,” he said. “We were down by three going into the fourth quarter and then things started to click.”
The Ripon water polo program was scheduled to host its first home match on Oct. 10. Instead, that contest has been moved to Kimball High in Tracy.
Ripon has been helped by area high schools, including Oakdale and West of Tracy. Modesto Junior College has also opened its pool to Zador’s athletes.
“We’ve allowed a lot of people to come into our pool and use it. It’s the generosity of the area,” said Zador, whose late father, Ervin, kept his pool gates open to many of the Valley’s schools and programs.
“It’s an understanding around the valley that kids need to stay in the water no matter what.”
Bussing the kids to and from out-of-town locations for practices that last a little more than an hour has been troublesome and frustrating.
“It’s been really hectic,” Zador said. “Trying to fit 25 kids into four lanes is not an easy task.”
The pump controls the circulation of water and chemicals, Zador said, and allows the water to be filtered.
Zador said it’s routine for pumps to eventually wear down and parts need to be replaced, but he admits to being caught off guard by the timing of this breakdown.
The aquatics center is only 10-years-old.
Still, he reasons the center’s year-round use likely led to the corroded propeller and broken pump.
The delay is due in part to the scarcity of the parts. Many of them, Zador said, have been deemed obsolete and were tough to locate.
“That thing is always working. It’s always going,” he said. “It’s part of the life of a pool, you know.
“It’s just that nowadays when things break, they’ve already been updated.”