Archive for Thursday, November 27, 1997


November 27, 1997


When Kansas University swim team members churn through the pool at Robinson Center during practice, they stir things up.

Unfortunately, they've been kicking up fumes that, at times, have hung around, irritating their throats and lungs.

The problem peaked early this month when coach Gary Kempf moved team members to the Lawrence High School pool for practice. That lasted a little longer than a week.

"We're back," Kempf said. "We're in the process of solving the problems. Everybody from the chancellor on down is working hard on this."

The problem is twofold: a chlorination system that's not consistent and a ventilation system that doesn't move air well enough across the water's surface.

"Pool chemistry is a fine line," Kempf said. "A couple of times, we've crossed that line."

The solution, which comes with a price tag of about $30,000, includes two new chlorination units that will ensure more stable chlorine levels and pH balances, as well as an upgraded ventilation system.

"It's a good hunk of change, but for the safety of the users, it's going to have to be done," said Bob Lockwood, facilities director at Robinson.

Although the fumes can be irritating to people's throat and lungs, both men said they don't believe swimmers were in danger.

The fumes that have bothered members of the men's and women's swim teams are heavier than air, Lockwood said, and have lingered about 12 inches above the water. The teams, which practice 20 hours a week, agitate the water more than typical pool users. That churning releases the fumes into the air.

Ventilation system improvements should help blow those fumes away from the water surface, Lockwood said.

"I think we've got a system now that will work," he added.

All the work should be completed in two weeks. Meanwhile, items such as fans are being used to help deter problems until the system is completely fixed.

-- Caroline Trowbridge's phone message number is 832-7148. Her e-mail address is

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