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For the editor,

Mention West Virginia to someone who lives outside of our state, and those people may respond with comments such as: hillbillies, moonshine, John Denver’s “Country Roads” or the beautiful mountain scenery that covers much of our state.

Take a moment and think back to the late 1980s and early 1990s. A large majority of the American population didn’t want to give football a fighting chance when it was introduced back then. Many thanks to those brave people who believed, pushed and persevered to make this vision a reality at the time. Without these individuals, youth football would not be a staple sport in the United States and in our West Virginia communities and school system.

Now mention swimming in West Virginia, and most might consider doing it in one of our many rivers, lakes, or creeks. Many people born and raised in West Virginia may remember, I know, doing just that during the summer months when I was a kid. Over time the world changes and as it changes we must adapt and change with it so that we don’t stay in the past or die on the vine. Our state’s competitive swimming community has quickly grown in popularity over the years with our West Virginia youth. This is where football was back then. While this is a great opportunity for West Virginia youth, our young student athletes face a huge hurdle; lack of indoor pools statewide for swimming/working out. Imagine how much interest in swimming would exist if the indoor pool space was made available to our young people.

The WVSSAC (West Virginia High Schools Activities Commission) informed me that West Virginia has 52 high schools that have a swimming program. Unfortunately, all of these high schools use someone else’s facilities, such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, municipal community center, college/university pool, etc.; except for Brooke High School and Wheeling Park High School which have their own pool on site. As such, the West Virginia Department of Education relies heavily on other institutions/organizations to provide a service that our swimmers in the various counties of West Virginia require; swimming pool. Unfortunately, many of these facilities across the state are much older and require far more upkeep and maintenance than in the past. In some cases, the pool may be permanently closed.

Please ensure that our West Virginia High School swimmers continue to have these facilities to pursue their passion for the sport of swimming. You can call David L. Roach (WV State Superintendent of Schools) at 1-833-627-2833 and ask for his and the West Virginia Department of Education’s unwavering financial support of these institutions/organizations regarding the needs of our high school swimmers.

Henri Sasyn

Vienna, W.Va.

(former resident of Weirton)

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