Let's start this story by getting all the cliches out of the way.
The Cal State Northridge swim team may be washed up--its season down the drain because of a faulty filter system in the college's pool. Coach Pete Accardy doesn't want to make waves, of course. After all, it's just water under the bridge now.
With that out of the way . . .
A broken filter system in the CSUN pool could cost the Matadors' men's swim team a fifth consecutive NCAA Division II championship, according to Accardy.
It's been three weeks since either the men's or women's team have been able to practice in the college's athletic pool.
As a result, both teams have been forced to move their practice sessions to the student union pool in an effort to continue training.
The student union pool has six lanes, no gutters, and is generally for students' recreational use only. It has been readily available during the last three weeks only because school is not in session.
"For a one-week emergency situation, the student union pool isn't bad," Accardy said. "Any more than that, though, and it really hurts a team."
Because the pool is not guttered, it is slow. But that's not a major problem.
"The main problems are accessibility, size and temperature," Accardy said. "When school is in, there are only certain times when we can use the pool, and it's six lanes instead of eight, which means it takes longer to get a workout since we can't have as many people in the pool.
"The main problem, though, is that early in the morning, when the wind blows, this pool is only 74-75 degrees. That may be warm for the ocean, but not for a pool. For our purposes, it should be up around 80-82 degrees this time of year."
Since the teams have been using the student union pool, Accardy estimates 80% of the swimmers have caught colds, with more than half of that total slowed for more than two weeks by the lingering effects of their illness.
"When the winds start whipping around early in the morning it really gets chilly in there," Accardy said. "It is unfortunate that our athletes have to put up with this type of situation. It's really uncalled for."
Accardy said that the pool system has been gradually breaking down for two years.
"As things broke we patched them up," Accardy said. "Nothing major happened until last year at this time. Last January the filter system became dangerous."
Accardy said that the pool became dangerous because the salt in a non-chlorine chemical that the college used in the pool broke down the metal filter casing.
"It was a hazard to go in there," Accardy said. "If the thing blows up and people are around there could have been all kinds of injuries."
"The simple fact is, we needed a new system two years ago and we patched it up instead of fixing it," he added. "In January of 1984 it was totally shot again. Luckily we made it through the year. It is my understanding the money was allocated and the work was supposed to be done last summer. You can imagine my surprise when we came back this (school) year and the work still wasn't done."
Martin Holzman, director of plant operations at CSUN, denied that the $136,000 needed to fix the pool was available last summer.
"The money was allocated to be used during this year, but it was not available until last September," Holzman said. "The work probably will not be done until next summer. It's been delayed because we're in the middle of the school year."
Holzman said the work was not completed last September because law requires a state college to accept bids on any contracts totaling more than $500.
Bids on the pool's repair were accepted Jan. 3. Only one bid was received.
Repairs on the athletic pool during the school year could effect more than 500 students enrolled in 22 classes, according to CSUN Athletic Director Robert Hiegert.
A temporary filter system is scheduled for installation in the pool today. College officials say they hope the backup system lasts at least until summer, when they will make permanent repairs.
Accardy is hoping that it's not too late to salvage a shot at another national title. His men's team has been champion eight of the last 10 years and has been second the other two times. CSUN women were second nationally last year.
Northridge has been forced to cancel scheduled appearances at the UC Irvine Invitational last week, and the UC San Diego Invitational this weekend. "Right now, training time is more important than meets," Accardy said. "We'll have to sacrifice some meet experience to get in shape because we've missed so many practice sessions. At one point, we couldn't use the (student union) pool for three days. It was too cold."
Accardy's only consolation is that 27 members (18 men, nine women) of CSUN's swim teams have already qualified for the finals.
"Our men's team is the best we've ever had," Accardy said. "They showed that the way they swam when they qualified (for the finals) back in December.
"The problem is, it's now a month later and we haven't improved. Those times that we qualified with are good, but they're not going to win a championship for us."
Valley College and College of the Canyons men's basketball teams each won their Mountain Valley Conference opener.
Valley, led by MVC Co-Player of the Week Larry Middleton, defeated West Los Angeles, 59-47, while Canyons beat Trade Tech, 74-73.
In Valley's victory, Middleton, a 6-2 sophomore from Taft High, scored 30 points and hit 14 of 18 shots. He leads the Monarchs in scoring with an average of 27.5 points per game.
Canyons (13-4), is led by Pete Coeler, who is scoring at a clip of 15.3 points a game. Don White (12.5), James Mixon (11.6) and Karl Tompkins (11.3) also average in double figures for the Cougars. Tompkins is also among conference leaders in rebounding with an average of 7.1 a game. Guard Deron White leads the conference in assists with 134 in 16 games.
Canyons and Valley are both ranked in this week's Southland Sports Information Director's poll. Canyons is No. 6, and Valley (11-6), is tied at No. 11 with Bakersfield.
Canyons is No. 9 in the state, according to the JC Athletic Bureau in San Mateo.
Valley hosts Trade Tech (10-6, 0-1) tonight. Canyons hosts Los Angeles Southwest Saturday night. Both games start at 7:30.
West L.A. Coach Charles Sands, after watching Middleton score more than half of Valley's points in a game: "Middleton had the best shooting night I have seen in conference play in 10 years."
Tara Flanagan, a junior from Concord, Calif., has been a welcome addition to the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team.
The 6-0 forward is being slowly worked back into coach Leslie Milke's lineup after being ineligible the first 10 games of the season. In three games, Flanagan has averaged 9.7 points and five rebounds, with a high of 18 points and seven rebounds last week against Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Even with the addition of Flanagan, the Lady Matadors are down to only nine players, however.