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Swimmers in Gallatin County hope to see changes after school board meeting

Swim Teams Express Concern After Swim Center Closure
Posted at 8:46 AM, Jul 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 10:46:06-04

BOZEMAN — After the Swim Center closing due to infrastructural issues in May, local swim teams have been needing a new place to practice. Swimmers like Marcus Clapper of Gallatin County High School have been impacted by the Swim Centers closure. 

“It’s definitely been an impact for a lot of people in the community... and especially the teams all around... we have multiple swim teams,” says Clapper, “We have the Brookies, we have all of them, we have the Sting Rays who are our synchronized swim team and all of that... it’s definitely impacted them because they’re still struggling to find places to practice.”

Clapper is one of many swimmers that is concerned for their team and what the future holds. Many swimmers have grown up here with friends and family, so the closure is more than just a lost season of their sport.

“The swim center is a second home, to me and my family and my club teammates and my high school teammates. It's kind of a bummer how the only swim center in Bozeman is shut down for the winter,” says Ardasher Usmonov.

After a school board meeting held last Monday, there was a lot of discussion about what the swim teams are going to do about the closure and where they are going to practice. The biggest issue is the upcoming high school season coming up in November. Students, parents, and coaches are urging the city to act quickly in order for their sport to survive this winter.

Usmonov was one of the students who stood up at the meeting and spoke his mind about how the Swim Center closure has affected his sport negatively.

“They did see where I came from... and they kind of ... imagined I guess what it would feel like for one of their only sports to be discontinued,” stated Usmonov.

The board meeting also brought up the issue of the city running aquatic facilities. According to Bozeman Swim Coach Siobhan Gilmartin, there is some tension between the aquatics community and the city due to the lack of urgency the city has seemed to be giving this aquatic issue.

“There was some concern with swim facilities being managed by the city - and that being the school districts plan to support growth in aquatics,” said Gilmartin.

Gilmartin has also been working hard to make sure her team has a place to practice for their upcoming season. She has reached out to several sources to see what steps she has to take to make sure her team is given the proper resources they need. 

“I’ve been meeting with community partners like Eagle mount to ensure that we have space to practice, but I’m one of 20 plus user groups trying to find space for the winter," she said. “And I know that pressure is being put on the very limited water that exists in our town”

For some students in Gallatin County, the Swim Center closing is just a loss of another sports season, but to seniors like Marcus Clapper who want to go to college for swimming, it has been really challenging. 

“Swimming is kind of my one way into college. It’s my dream,” says Clapper. “So it’s kind of rough not having somewhere to just go and swim for hours and hours so it’s going to be interesting to see how our season pans out as me being a senior and it being my last season.”

Other students like Mallory Handelin have high hopes their swim coaches will push through these challenges and are hopeful for a successful season this winter for their high school teams.

“My family has been in the Hawk Swim team for 9 plus years,” says Handelin. “It’s a super special community and it's going to be super exciting when we get to swim this year and it’s definitely going to be a little different but I know our swim team can push through anything.”

A Gallatin County City official did give a statement last week stating they were exercising every option to try and get the Swim Center open as soon as they can, but it doesn’t mean that doesn’t come with challenges for others along the way.