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Back in the swim: Raytown and Raytown South teams are practicing at Lee’s Summit Splash

Updated: 2013-08-23T03:29:36Z

By BRIAN BURNES

The Kansas City Star

Raytown swimmers have a new home pool.

Students from Raytown and Raytown South high schools who lost their home pool last spring when the Raytown YMCA branch closed now are practicing at Lee’s Summit Splash, a renovated indoor facility.

“This is just a godsend in keeping our program, which has been such a tradition and mainstay in the Raytown School District,” said Bob Glasgow, district activities director.

District swimmers long had practiced and competed at the former Raytown YMCA at 10301 E. Missouri 350. But that shut down in April after YMCA of Greater Kansas City officials announced plans the previous month to build a new downtown Kansas City facility while closing some branches, including those in Raytown and Independendence.

YMCA members in Independence, who lost their branch at 14001 E. 32nd St., did have the option of patronizing the Henley Aquatic Center, operated by the Independence School District, which offers public memberships.

The Raytown School District did not have a comparable option.

“Our pool rental will be less now, but we do have the additional cost of transportation from the schools to the practice facility and back,” Glasgow said. “So, our costs are probably going to be higher than they were when we were at the YMCA.”

Classes began Monday in Raytown. A school bus will be available to transport swimmers to and from the Lee’s Summit facility, Glagow said.

Last week, even though school was not yet in session, swimmers already were in the water.

“I’m very glad we have a place to practice,” said Matthias Arduser, a Raytown High senior.

“Still, it can be hard to get here. Today, it took me about 20 minutes.”

Ian Mahl, a Raytown South senior, said while he is glad his team has a place to practice, he is disappointed there is little deck space, where family members or spectators could gather.

That means no home meets, he said.

Tristen Caudle, a Raytown High junior, also is disappointed with the lack of home meets. But there are other advantanges over the old Raytown YMCA, he said.

“The air quality is better and the pool is nicer,” Caudle said. “I actually prefer coming here to swim.”

The six-lane, 25-yard pool offered at Lee’s Summit Splash, 751 N.W. Commerce Drive, used to be part of a larger fitness facility. Now under new management, the pool has been renovated, and the facility offers instructional and recreational use.

“This pool does have better air quality,” added Jim Aziere, head boys’ swimming coach for the Raytown School District.

He’s aware of the lack of a home pool for his swimmers.

“That was a big disappointment,” he said. “In the past we always had senior night for our seniors at the home pool.

“But our program is alive and kicking and we are going to have a great season.”

The Raytown swimmers open their season Sept. 3.

Paula Oxler, Greater Kansas City YMCA spokeswoman, said discussions have been held with individuals interested in acquiring the now-closed branches, but no such purchase is imminent.

To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to bburnes@kcstar.com.

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