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Razing Olympic Swim Stadium

October 09, 1994

It's unfortunate that there are no professional sports, as we know them, that can provide an event which utilizes a swimming pool. If there was one, the '32 Olympic swim facility would be saved, not razed (Oct. 3). The powers that be need to know how historic this pool is.

It is doubtful that a natatorium will ever again achieve the record of the famous Los Angeles swim stadium. In August, 1949, more than 25,000 paying spectators saw the Japanese pick up where they left off in 1932. Hironoshin Furuhashi set four world records in as many days and his teammate, Shiro Hashizume, set two in a spectacular event that was witnessed by an enthusiastic crowd that overflowed the stadium.

From that year on, swimmers from the Los Angeles area began their climb to world dominance. And it was the swim stadium that was to be the base for their climb. In 1956, the Los Angeles Athletic Club named Peter Daland to head its swimming program. Then, when he was named new head coach at USC, to replace Fred Cady in 1958, the swim stadium became the home pool for the Trojans. It was the quest of every swimmer, who knew that this pool had lanes paved with gold.

This ancient guildhall of great swimming has recorded 65 world records, the last being back in 1970. No other pool in the United States, or the world for that matter, comes close to this record tally. The '32 swim stadium is a part of Los Angeles and U.S. aquatic history.

ALBERT SCHOENFIELD

Los Osos

* We appreciated the opportunity to give your reporter the background on the earthquake/FEMA status of the Los Angeles swim stadium. In that otherwise accurate article, we must clarify the statement that "perhaps a wading pool for the seniors and handicapped" would be included as a part of a new project.

The requests for an outdoor wading pool came from parents of infants and those wishing for a place to relax in the outdoors. Discussions regarding swim programs, swim classes and special swim times for seniors and handicapped persons have nothing to do with providing a separate wading pool. Of course, everyone would be welcome in the main pool (whether it winds up indoors or outdoors, 50-meters or longer/shorter)!

With regard to your Oct. 4 editorial, "Don't Take the Plunge Without a Site," unfortunately, the Department of Recreation and Parks did not have the same opportunity to present the facts with respect to the inference that any department or office of the city is interested in any trade-off of swim facilities for parking lots.

We have never considered giving up, nor has anyone had the nerve to ask us to give up, the swim stadium for a parking lot or parking structure. Furthermore, that issue is not a part of negotiations with either the Raiders or the Clippers.

We have been asked to do the work necessary to provide the maximum dollars and the maximum options to the community so it can determine just what should be done with this wonderful "opportunity."

Although the editorial stated that "on summer days, as many as 1,400 swimmers used the facility," overall the facility is grossly underutilized, and incredibly expensive (over $100 per swimmer) for the city to operate. A new indoor facility, size to be determined by the community, could dramatically increase the number of swimmers, the hours during which they can swim, and the months during which they swim (the city's cost per swimmer could be under $1). Also note that a new facility could include amenities like a weight-training room, basketball, aerobics, wading pool and other community rooms.

It is possible that the existing pool could be kept open until the new facility is completed. Alternative sites have been reviewed and are within a few hundred yards of the existing pool, and within Exposition Park.

STEVEN SOBOROFF, President

Board of Commissioners

Department of Recreation and Parks

* Your editorial is timely and appropriate.

As chairman of the Master Plan Committee of the California Museum of Science and Industry (the 6th Agricultural District of the State of California), which is charged with the management of Exposition Park, I fully concur with the proposition that the community deserves, and should have, a new pool appropriate to its needs.

The community is currently blessed with various leaders who communicate with one another. Although the property may indeed be that of the state, the funds to improve it with a quality swim stadium are part of the Recreation and Parks Department of Los Angeles. Working together with the additional help of the county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, we expect to work toward a design that is suitable to the needs of the community.

Gov. Pete Wilson, Mayor Richard Riordan, Assemblywoman Marguerite Archie-Hudson, state Sens. Diane Watson and Teresa Hughes, Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Burke are all to be commended for their willingness to work together to bring a year-round full-service facility. Lest there be any doubt, it will be located in Exposition Park.

SHELDON H. SLOAN

Los Angeles

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