Girls Swimming Senior Night Rescheduled over Chemical Imbalance

Photo of Westhill pool courtesy of Taryn Duncan.

Photo of Westhill pool courtesy of Taryn Duncan.

Mariel Barocas, Opinion Editor

(Disclosure: Editor-in-Chief Abby Bushell, who is a swim and dive team member, provided background and contact information for sources used by the author of this piece).

The members of the girls’ swim and dive team were having a routine practice on Tuesday, October 18, the day prior to their Senior Night meet—which was originally scheduled for the following Wednesday afternoon.

That Tuesday, partway through their practice, multiple swimmers began coughing and an athlete indicated that she and several others left the pool deck to vomit. Other team members noticed they had red, irritated eyes and experienced peeling of the skin after exiting the pool.

Concerns for the swimmers’ and divers’ health were brought to the attention of the team’s coaching staff by team members. In an email to team members and parents, Coach Kyle Cutter said that Head Coach Rick Lewis performed tests on the water, and found that the pH levels were low. Low pH indicates acidic conditions.

Later that evening, concerned parents reached out to the team’s coaches, Westhill administration, and the Stamford Health department after receiving word of their athletes’ practice.

Senior Swim captain Dominka Brice stated that she “felt something was wrong at practice [on Tuesday] when everyone was coughing, and we knew it wasn’t just because it was a little humid on deck.” Brice began coughing after completing several laps in the pool.

In an email to parents and athletes, Westhill Vice Principal Chase Dunlap postponed all use of the pool, including for the team’s Senior Night meet against Trumbull. The Stamford Health Department initiated a formal investigation into the chemical conditions. The department took several samples, and, in conjunction with Westhill’s custodial staff, worked to devise a course of action to correct the unbalanced chemical levels in the pool. Upon TRT’s inquiry, Dunlap declined to comment on the situation due to an incomplete “picture of the pool chemical irregularities.”

After several days of testing, on Saturday, Oct. 22  it was determined that the pool would be completely neutralized, and the process of building up to the acceptable chemical levels would begin. On Sunday, it was determined that the pool chemicals were within an acceptable range for use. Practice resumed Monday, Oct. 24.  

The team’s Senior Night, which was tentatively planned for Monday, Oct. 24 at the Westhill pool, was postponed for a second time to Friday, Oct. 28.

Come support Girls Swim and Dive team in their final dual home meet of the season.