When Fredonia boys swimming coach Bob Ball arrived at school on Thursday, he was greeted with the news that one of the filters on the school's pool had malfunctioned and sprung a leak that allowed 80,000 gallons of water to leak into the school's basement.
"We've had problems with the outside of the (pool's) wall," Ball noted. "A few years ago the outside of the pool wall, part of it came down on the inside of the wall. But for that, we had money approved in the last budget ... We had $200,000 to put toward that and that's been in the (OBSERVER). We've had issues with that part of the pool and then our heater went on the pool at the beginning of the school year, so our girls had to go to Dunkirk for a while during the girls' season until they fixed the heater. (The school) got that taken care of, but this one caught us by surprise. It was nothing that we saw coming ahead of time. I just walked in (Thursday) morning and 80,000 gallons was not in the pool."
Ball noted that the pool was only 3-feet deep when all was said and done, forcing his boys to seek new waters to practice and swim their home meets in. Luckily, Dunkirk was there to help.
"I haven't heard anything back yet as far as a time-table or anything like that," Ball said of the pending repairs. "But I'm guessing, and not knowing any further information, that we will probably, I would assume, be at Dunkirk the rest of the boys' season. I just don't think it's going to be a quick fix. It looks like it's something major."
On Friday, the Hillbillies boarded a bus and headed to practice with their arch-rivals, finishing off the day with a friendly water polo match that saw members of both teams mixed together to form the two teams.
"(Dunkirk) graciously allowed us to use their pool as long as we need to and move our meets over there, so once again they bailed us out like we helped them a couple years ago," Ball said. "For three years they used our pool as well. We've had a very good relationship with them the last couple of years in terms of sports. We've been able to lean on each other when we needed it."
Aside from Fredonia losing the rest of their home meets, the Second Annual Fredonia Girls/Boys Alumni swim meet was canceled as well.
"I'm disappointed because we had a real good turnout for that last year," Ball said of the alumni event that was scheduled for Dec. 26. "I was really surprised with how many traveled to be there the day after Christmas.
"We got a real nice record board, we raised money for that," Ball continued. "And now we were looking at a new speaker and sound system with this year's donations. Knowing our alumni, I'm sure the donations will still keep on coming, but it was just so much fun last year so it was a little disappointing that we had to cancel that."
Ball was also disappointed that his three seniors - Reed Porterfield, Jacob Brown and Nick Vecchio - will have to finish their careers swimming their final home meets in Dunkirk's pool.
"It's nice to be able to finish your career in your own pool and have 'Senior Night'," Ball said. "But I don't think they can complain being over at Dunkirk's pool. It's not a bad place to be."