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Instructors create swim school ahead of Fountain Park closure

Kirsty Fulton, one of the swim instructors spearheading the school, said she has already seen some anxiety surrounding pool accessibility and what lessons will be available due to the Fountain Park rec centre closure.  
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The closure of Fountain Park Recreation Centre is scheduled to take place from May 16, 2022, to the latter half of September. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

A handful of St. Albert-based swim instructors are starting their own swim school in anticipation of a spike in demand for lessons with the upcoming repair-related closure of Fountain Park Recreation Centre.

The 44-year-old facility will require major life-cycle repairs and replacement work, the City said in a release in January. The bulk of the work will involve the replacement of the facility’s main air-handling system, but updates to equipment and infrastructure improvements are also planned, as well as upgrades to the building’s fire alarm and security systems. The closure is scheduled to take place from May 16 to the latter half of September. 

Kirsty Fulton and Ryan Joynt, two long-time swim instructors in St. Albert, are beginning a private swim school for one-on-one lessons this summer. The duo has enlisted three other instructors, and together they aim to teach lower-level swimming, which involves children of preschool age up to swimmer level two in Lifesaving Society Alberta's curriculum. 

Fulton and Joynt said they started their own first aid training business back in January. When the duo heard about the Fountain Park closure, they extended their affiliate membership with Lifesaving Society Alberta to offer their own swim lessons. 

“We unfortunately couldn’t get any pool space in St. Albert, so we got the north end of Edmonton in the Mayfield area,” Fulton said. 

Private schools that have their own affiliate membership with the Lifesaving Society can’t use City facilities for lessons, Fulton explained, leaving hotel space as the only option. Hotels Fulton and Joynt approached in St. Albert either said no or didn’t have the appropriate space. 

Because of the Edmonton facility’s small size, the swim school will only be able to accommodate the one-on-one lessons, Joynt said. 

Fulton, who has been a swim instructor since 2003, said she has already seen some anxiety surrounding pool accessibility and what lessons will be available because of the Fountain Park Rec Centre closure.  

“There’s definitely been some panic,” Fulton said. 

While Fountain Park is closed, Landrex Water Play Centre, Servus Credit Union Place, and Grosvenor Outdoor Pool will be available to accommodate programming normally offered at the Fountain Park rec centre in a reduced capacity, the City said in a Jan. 28 news release.

Fulton and Joynt said they would love to continue their new school even after Fountain Park reopens in the fall. 

"It's something we'd like to see continue indefinitely," Fulton said.