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Pacific student-athlete Kyra Christmas eyes 2021 Olympics with help of new DIY hay-bale pool

Apr 30, 2020

Kyra Christmas ’20 can look out the window into her Canadian backyard and see proof of how focused she is to compete in the Olympics.

There she sees a do-it-yourself swimming pool constructed with 16 large bales of hay, hundreds of feet of black tarp and duct tape. Yes, do not forget the duct tape.

“People say Calgary is kind of a hick town,” the Pacific water polo standout joked during a recent online chat with several other Pacific athletes. “And here we are building a swimming pool with hay bales.”

Christmas, a sport management major, has had a stellar water polo career at Pacific, scoring 211 goals. She has twice won conference player of the year honors.

Christmas was poised to compete for Canada in the 2020 Summer Olympics. She took a red-shirt year at Pacific and helped Canada qualify in women’s water polo for the first time since 2004.

Then came the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which led to the postponement of the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan (they now are set for 2021).

“It was very disappointing to say the least,” Christmas said. “I have wanted to be an Olympian for as long as I remember. I can wait another year for the opportunity.”

Christmas continued her training, but faced another obstacle when Canadian health officials shut down swimming facilities because of COVID-19.

“That is when my dad and I decided to build our own pool,” Christmas said.

“Knowing Kyra and her parents (Steve and Dayna), it does not surprise me that the family would do something like build that pool,” said James Graham, Pacific’s water polo coach. “They are very creative people and Kyra’s desire to be an Olympian is so strong.”

Christmas chronicled the process in a four-minute Instagram video that has received more than 1,100 views. The country music hit “Make It Sweet” sets the video’s tone with the lyrics: “Let’s make a little lemonade if lemons is all that we’ve got.”

Steve Christmas got behind the wheel of a Bobcat and maneuvered the gigantic bales into position—playing “hay-bale Tetris,” is how Kyra Christmas described the process—to create a pool 16 feet long by 8 feet wide by 6 feet tall.

It was an arduous process, but perhaps paled in comparison to what was next—putting down thick black tarp on a very windy Alberta day.

After a few missteps, they decided to put two layers of tarp in the pool and Christmas stopped a few small leaks with duct tape. After a couple of tests, a large water truck came on site and, hours later, they had a “DIY” swimming pool.

Christmas took her first jump into the pool, but only after getting off a couple of dandy puns: “Closing down the pools was the last straw for me, so I … baled myself out and made my own.”

So far, the pool is holding up fine.

“I have played water polo for so many years. I can be patient,” Christmas said. “The faster we all beat this (virus) the faster I can live my dream.”

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