A volunteer coach and an Idaho Falls gym are teaming up to keep costs down so that all Hillcrest High School swimmers can afford to participate.
With city pool fees increasing, Apple Athletic Club is sponsoring the team with free training time twice a week.
Idaho Falls Parks and Recreation director Greg Weitzel said the aquatic center is facing cost increases of its own, and to keep up, they’re charging another 75 cents per lane per hour.
It may not sound like much, but swimming isn’t a sanctioned high school sport, so the swimmers and their families cover expenses out of their own pockets.
Tuesday was the first official practice of high school swim season.
“Swim fast times, go to state,” said senior Sam Scoville.
“I’m excited to get back into racing,” said sophomore Catherine Maxwell.
Hillcrest coach Rick Krupa was back in his element.
“I believe swimming changes kids lives,” said Krupa.
But it can also set each swimmer back about $100 a season.
“Cost of fuel and everything has continued to skyrocket and I was afraid to raise rates, which would cause some of our kids not to swim for our team anymore,” said Krupa.
Krupa, a volunteer coach, isn’t willing to lose any of his 40-plus kids. Last year he dug deep into his own pockets. This time around, the city of Idaho Falls is charging more for practice time at the pool., and Krupa can’t do it alone.
So he found a solution in Apple Athletic Club.
“He puts so much time in and dedicates so much of his life to these kids, and its volunteer, so we felt we had to help,” said Shawna Adams, aquatic director at Apple.
Adams said she couldn’t say no. Apple is sponsoring the team and donating pool time twice a week.
“We hope members will be understanding,” said Adams.
Mother Nature may help please everyone. Warm temperatures kept the outdoor pool open until Oct. 5 last year, said Adams.
For now, Krupa is glowing with gratitude and ready for his team to make a big splash.
“When kids are able to do things they’ve never done before and get better and faster and see what they can accomplish, that’s it,” said Krupa. “That’s why I do it.”
The first meet for local teams is on Friday. Krupa said the “midnight meet” goes until midnight then everyone will go out for breakfast.
The higher prices at the Idaho Falls aquatic center take effect on Oct. 1. The Hillcrest swim team will continue to practice there on Mondays and Thursdays.