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Olympian’s tweet causes Mayor Tory to reconsider potential pool closures

CityNews | posted Thursday, Jan 12th, 2017

Canada's Penny Oleksiak holds up her gold medal after her first-place finish in the women's 100m freestyle finals during the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Finding money in Toronto’s budget can be an Olympian task.

The city is facing a $91-million budget shortfall that’s prompted Mayor John Tory to look for savings wherever possible, including potentially closing 10 Toronto District School Board pools.

But a tweet from Canadian Olympic swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak could keep those school pools from being drained.

“It’s important to teach kids how to swim,” Oleksiak tweeted on Tuesday. “It saves lives and is a good physical activity.”

Oleksiak, 16, won four medals at the Summer Games in Rio, including a gold. Her impressive resume wasn’t lost on Mayor Tory.

Tory tweeted: “Gold medal message received…I’ve asked Budget Chief Gary Crawford to find a way to save these pools.”

Along with the 10 TDSB pools, 12 outdoor pools and 36 pools are also in jeopardy. If they were all closed, the city would pocket around $2 million in savings.

Oleksiak is a student at Monarch Park Collegiate in Toronto’s east end and developing her impressive swimming strokes in Toronto pools.

Councillors will debate the proposed cuts at their next meeting on February 15.

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