Belgrade School Board tables swim team proposal

Belgrade School Board tables swim team proposal

Following a lengthy discussion June 14, the Belgrade School Board voted to table a proposal to start a Montana High School Association sanctioned swim team until the July meeting.

Belgrade Activities Director Toby Robinson, who presented the proposal along with advisor Caty Flikkema, said board members want see how many high school athletes are actually interested in participating on a swim team before moving forward.

“We don’t really know who our swimmers are because they all go to Bozeman to compete,” said Robinson. “We don’t know. We might have 20 kids here, we may have five, we don’t know. So the board wants more hard numbers on that.”

Robinson sent out a survey to students last week asking about participation and hopes to present the feedback at the next meeting.

“We have to send it to kids in the summer time through their email and they have to see and they have to answer it,” said Robinson. “So probably leave it open for about two weeks because they’ll hear back from me at the board meeting in four weeks.”

Currently, Belgrade High is the only Class AA program without a swim team. The school moved up to double A beginning with the 2019-20 school year following more than 30 years in A.

If the board were to approve a swim team, Belgrade would rent practice lanes at the Bozeman Swim Center for next two to three years until an expected facility in Belgrade is complete. It would cost $6.37 per lane or about $1,700 for the season. There would also be additional costs for uniforms and travel.

The season would run from Nov. 9 to Feb. 12.

Flikkema told school board members that Belgrade would not host tournaments until at least 2023 and that swim center should be completed by then.

But, is it worth starting a program if only a handful of kids are interested?

“That’s what the board was deciding,” said Robinson. “In order to do that it’s about an $8,000 expenditure with gas and coaching and all that stuff. “So is it worth it for five (kids). Yes or no? It’s up to the board to decide that one.”

Flikkema said as of April there were 45 Belgrade kids middle school aged or younger participating in local swim clubs in Bozeman.

“I just anticipate as Belgrade gets a high school swim team,” she said, “the program would keep growing.”

In November, the Belgrade Park Board and City Council approved building a proposed aquatic center in Menicucci Park (the Belgrade Youth Sports Complex), subject to approval of other entities with a vested interest in the park property. The nonprofit Belgrade Aquatic Center has begun raising funds to build a $12.5 million facility to include a competitive cold water pool.

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