Parents of swimmers from three Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are upset because they’re being denied admission to Tuesday evening’s meet at Providence.
Several parents shared their concerns Tuesday morning with the Observer.
SoMeck 8 Conference rivals Olympic, Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg are scheduled to swim at Providence at 6 p.m. The meet, between some of the area’s top programs, is expecting to draw a large crowd. Providence’s pool has a capacity of 283. With three teams swimming, there will likely be about 250 swimmers participating. That would leave little room to sell tickets to spectators.
In past years, CMS would move big meets, like Tuesday’s, to the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club uptown, where it often hosts conference tournaments. The MAC is closed for renovations. Last month, Providence athletics director Charles Lansing recognized that his team’s meet with rival Ardrey Kell would likely cause attendance issues and the schools worked to move the Dec. 18 meet to Queens.
Lansing said the two schools have nearly 220 swimmers and he needed another 30 or 40 volunteers to put on a big meet.
“That puts us around 260,” he said, “and I don’t think it’s fair to sell 20 tickets and have 200 people swarming my parking lot, wondering why they can’t get in. We’re really a practice facility and we fit these meets in.
“We don’t normally have this many teams here, with the option to swim uptown. But this year, the uptown Aquatic Center is closed. We’re in a tough spot. Last year, Ardrey Kell and Providence swam uptown because we know we can’t safely host 250 swimmers, 50 volunteers and 200 parents. It’s a nightmare.”
So with the same concerns for Tuesday’s match, CMS officials took steps Monday afternoon.
Swim coaches of the three schools emailed parents informing them that spectators won’t be allowed admission.
CMS athletics director Sue Doran replied to the Observer by email Tuesday afternoon. She wrote: “Ardrey Kell, Olympic and South Mecklenburg high schools are scheduled to compete tonight at the Providence High School pool. Due to the number of swimmers on the three teams and the resulting capacity concerns in the pool area, tickets will not be sold to this meet. The safety of participants and spectators is our primary concern.
“South Mecklenburg High School is the host school for the meet. The decision was reached after speaking with the athletic directors from the three schools involved in the meet.”