(WINDSOR, ON) – Where have all the swim meets gone? With 2015 almost wrapped up, not one of the heralded prestigious competitions hosted in Windsor after its downtown pool opened, to the usual pretence, has returned this year.
Back on June 21, 2013, the then failing mayor of Windsor, Eddie Francis, was beaming about a handful of, what were described as, significant competitions. A news release from city hall boasted the, “… soon-to-be-completed Family Aquatic Complex is already turning heads in the provincial and national swimming communities.”
Were heads really turning or was the swimming community simply taking advantage of a dire situation in Toronto?
For a time, it had few pools of an appropriate size. The city’s acclaimed and much appreciated Etobicoke Olympian was off limits because of renovations. The soon to be too marvellous by half new natatoriums in Scarborough and Markham, along with the renovation of the Gretzky in Brantford, were yet operational.
Because of this, Windsor became a short-lived and temporary swimming capital.
But, its glory days seemed to end quite quickly. Its pool now sits empty, but for a few local events.
The usual suspects were abuzz in December of 2013 with the arrival of the Ontario Provincial Swimming Championships, Division III. It actually returned the next year before moving this year to Toronto’s famed, gleaming, new Pan Am pool.
Two months later, in February 2014, there was the splash of the Eastern Canadian Swimming Championships; known as the Speedo. This year it travelled to Quebec City and will turn up in Montreal next year.
The Masters Swimming Ontario Championships took over the pool in March. This year, its masters congregated at the Etobicoke Olympian and next year will travel up Highway 400 and across Highway 7 to Thornhill.
The national Masters Swimming Championships came and then went to Montreal, this year. It will relocate to the Olympian in Toronto next year.
After giving the once rosy city a try, Synchro Swim Ontario’s Open Age Group Synchronized Swimming Championships headed to the Olympian. Next year it will be on in an Ottawa suburb.
A probable reason the synchronized swimmers prefer big cities is because of the group’s close links with the Hilton organization; its official hotel.
Windsor, of course, has lost its Hilton.
In fact, it is no longer home to a single leading, major brand name. This could certainly dampen its attractiveness for significant events.
Despite this, no one seems to be reporting any visible signs ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens is doing much to rectify this drastic situation; one that signals Windsor is not a world city.
During his big announcement, failed mayor Francis, known for his hyperbole, talked of the city being, “… proud to share the four partnerships being created today with the community, delivering considerable direct and indirect economic benefits.”
Apparently, these partnerships were short term.
The 2013 news release included a quote from Aquatics Canada President Lisa Schott. She claimed swimming competitions, “… can make a meaningful difference to your community by contributing to the local economy.”
At what cost, is the real question.
Next year, the city’s money losing pool will sit largely idle while Dilkens will oversee spending at least $21 million of taxpayer’s money for a short FINA gathering. It can’t be held downtown because the pool is too small, so a portable one will be set-up at the east end arena.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.