By Bob Skolnik
The young swimmers at an Academy Bullets age-group swim club practice at Riverside-Brookfield High School got a big surprise on the morning of July 7.
While the swimmers were in the pool, a light fixture came loose, fell down and smashed onto the pool deck.
No one was injured, but the pool was closed for two days while the high school's maintenance staff replaced the screws in all the light fixtures in the pool area and took other safety precautions.
"The maintenance staff went in and replaced all the screws in all the lights and also added safety straps to the 44 light fixtures that hang above the pool to ensure that everything is secure and securely fastened," said District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis. "We're not sure if it was just some bad screws. Two of the screw heads were worn off or worn down, but we did make sure that we replaced everything with stainless [steel] for that that environment."
The pool, which opened in 2009, has been bedeviled by a number of problems since then, most prominently an inadequate ventilation system. The ventilation system was improved this past school year.
While the exact cause of the light fixture coming down is not known, it could be related to the inadequate ventilation system, which could have allowed a buildup of chloramines, which are formed when chlorine mixes, with organic materials such as sweat. The buildup over time can result in corrosion and may have caused screws to rust.
At the July 14 meeting of the District 208 Board of Education, school board President Mike Welch, referring to the past problems at the pool, told Skinkis to have the pool closely examined by experts to make sure it is safe.
"We should task the superintendent and his advisory council to just go in and look at that facility and make sure that that facility is going will be safe for years to come," Welch said.
Skinkis said he would personally talk to the district's architect and that perhaps a structural engineer would be brought in to examine the pool facility.