Local Pools Scramble To Provide Access To Disabled Swimmers

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Owners and managers of local swimming pools at hotels, city recreation centers and public parks are scrambling to comply with new federal requirements that all public pools be accessible to disabled swimmers. 

Pools across the country were given one year to comply with the federal law to install lifts on their property.

The director of Athens Community Arts, Parks and Recreation said the Athens city pool is required to have a plan in place for the lift by next Monday.

"We definitely want to have one if we have a swimmer that needs one," said Rich Campitelli.

The U.S. Senate hasn't decided whether the lifts should be a permanent addition to the pools or whether they should be able to move around the facility.

Joe Wakeley, director of Ohio University's aquatic center, said the facility is still in the process of deciding which lifts and ramps to order.

Wakeley said the lift will make it more convenient for physical therapy students and older residents to use the university pool.

"Academics and athletics and campus recreation combined use this facility quite a bit," he said. Being very active, I want to make sure that we meet everybody's needs as best we can."

Holly Kasler, an Athens resident who is in a wheelchair, says she thinks the new law will be a positive change for those who need special access.

"If there was ways that people in wheelchairs could get into the aquatic center and the Athens pool, they would probably have a lot more customers," she said. "That way people in wheelchairs can do the activities that other people can do." 

Campitelli says he hopes he will only have to install one lift at the city pool, but could be required to put in as many as three.

"If we can get by with one lift, make it available to help whoever we need to get into the pool, other than a small cost, well we want to be available to [accommodate] anyone who wants to swim," he said.

If the city pool is required to install all three pool lift, Campitelli said it could cost up to $20,000