Central York eyes 3-meter diving board amid concerns

Central York High School in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A decision on whether or not to put in a 3-meter diving board in the high school's natatorium caused concerns at a recent Central York board meeting.

Three-meter boards are few and far between in the York area as it is — York College and Messiah College took theirs out, and Central York's aquatics director said Dallastown Area School District removed its diving program altogether to save costs.

And although Dover Area is doing the groundwork for a 3-meter board, the district currently has no plans to install one, according to Central York Superintendent Michael Snell.

West York's Maya Sarver, watches as Ella Baugher takes her third dive of the prelims, during the YAIAA Diving Championship Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, at Central York Aquatic Center. Amanda J. Cain photo

More:Diving a cost casualty at Dallastown High School

More:Dover school board approves bids for $65 million high school project

That's why a USA Diving club in Lancaster County approached Central York, Snell said  at the board's monthly planning meeting on Oct. 15 — to see if it could rent out use of its facility, with the addition of the new board.

Currently, organizer Rusty McCollum and his group have to travel to West Chester, Chester County, to practice — two hours or more round trip.

But a few questioned the necessity of adding another board, especially when the district's own diving program is underutilized.

Serving only a few: The district has had between one and six divers any given year, said athletic director Marty Trimmer, and only two divers have competed at Division II or III levels over the past 12 years.

Plus, 3-meter diving is not a PIAA-sanctioned sport, so athletes would not be working toward competition.

Jim Gingerich, assistant swim coach of district club team Central York Aquatics, agreed, saying he's all about helping students but has not seen a huge demand in the district.

Of the 20 divers projected to sign up if the district agrees to let the group rent, only five are students from Central York.

"It’s really a convenience board — is what it comes down to in the end — for Rusty and his group," Trimmer said.

And resources could be better used to support school swim lessons, said aquatics director Catherine Lane, who said there are 60 kids on her waiting list.

The way the pool is configured during the winter session limits space, she said, and adding the board would restrict it even more. It would also limit practice time for Central York's 1-meter divers.

According to PIAA regulations, an outside group practicing with school athletes counts as a contest, which is not allowed, so the 3-meter divers could not practice at the same time.

Board member Gregory Lewis has been in touch with McCollum, who says he'd be grateful for any time he can get, even if it's at 9 p.m., after the school's scheduled aquatics activities.

Costs have not been determined yet, but for their part, the group plans to pay for board installation and maintenance, along with rental fees and the cost of lifeguards — though the district would still have to hire them. 

Other concerns: Apart from the necessity for the board, availability of space and safety specifications also are  concerns.

Snell said there would be no extra insurance cost to put the board in, but a couple of board members were worried about taking away space from an already-congested pool deck, which was not built for a 3-meter board.

"While you might be able to squeeze it in, I’d be very concerned about taking out the existing real estate for that," said board President Eric Wolfgang.

The district's insurance company recommended installing steps instead of a ladder, for safety reasons — which would take away even more space — and Snell intends to follow that recommendation.

"Even a 10-foot fall could be traumatic," he said.

Board members were still open to considering the idea but wanted more information, such as clarification on the club rental policy, an analysis on the impact to the deck from drilling in anchors, the cost of installation and a blueprint of the space.

Lane noted that if the district decided to put in a board, it would not be new — it would be one of the boards formerly at York College or Messiah.

That being said, it would have to meet equipment guidelines for safety and maintenance, as well as local codes and standards, which could depend on how it was stored or why it was taken out.

She said there could also be limitations on the manufacturer’s warranty — which only guarantees safety for one facility.

The issue is not yet scheduled for a vote, but the next board meeting is slated for Monday, Nov. 12.