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A Pool for All Seasons

Island Life

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of my family at the moment, and since nothing of consequence is happening in that regard right now we will step back within the watery boundaries of this place until something of relative importance that is emanating from the northeast part of this country stirs my interest once again. Having departed the engulfment of emotions back there, I’ve settled into the surround of water here. Some might say these could be similar circumstances, as water and emotions can be seen as equals when viewed through the prism of  astrology and tarot. Being surrounded by water here affords one certain degrees of comfort and solitary introspection. In looking back at my recent time in New Hampshire, I felt best in the midst of laps at the college pool or while cycling past cascading streams or the flat and calm of a small lake or pond. Out here, one shouldn’t have to explain the feeling of being on, in or near the water. If you don’t happen to get it, a person who can give insight into being in the realm of water will be on Island this weekend. Lynne Cox of ‘Swimming to Antarctica’ fame will be speaking at the Vashon Theatre this Sunday from 1-3pm as a fundraiser for the Seals Swim Team. An amazing book- an amazing person. An experience not to be missed- admission by donation.

Many years ago I almost became an activist because of swimming, or perhaps I should say that I got my first taste of becoming active because of the lack of swimming at my high school. I was getting to the end of my days in the YMCA league that I swam in- aging up and out- and after my freshman year it looked as though my swimming days were done. As I recall, I had gotten wind of a teacher who was interested in coaching, so I went to talk with him about it and was told I needed to get names on a petition to show that there was interest at the school. I began to collect signatures, but then was whisked away to an interview at a private school and the rest was proverbial history. It was a rocky history of success and failure and because of that failure I enjoyed ten years of refusing to get in a pool. It was about a year after I first came to the Island that I read an article in the Seattle Times about Masters Swimming and I decided that my sore running ankles and knees needed a break, so I broke my boycott and got back in the pool. This was over at the University of Washington however, back when it was five bucks to drive back on the Island and the roads in between were still relatively vacant from the latter days of the Boeing bust.

It was around this time that the first real efforts were being made to get our own pool covered on the Island. This seemed like a no brainer to me, but since I was already deeply involved with the Masters elsewhere I did not get seriously involved- I will not however accept the blame for the pool not getting covered back then. As it is, and as I’ve learned since then, the desire to cover the pool has long been present here. From the Park District history talks given at Vashon Park District commissioners meetings by Ruth Anderson, to statements made by Commissioner Ameling on more than a few occasions about the most asked for Parks related actions by the Island populace, it has been made abundantly clear that there has long been an expressed desire here to cover the pool and make it a year ‘round facility. Why that hasn’t been done seems to be a function of the squeaky wheel theorem- that and the fact that the pool is not a grass playing field.

Following this spring’s backwash line debacle and near pool closure, a growing squeak has become audible from the wheels of certain members of the Island’s swimming community. Friends of Vashon Pool has been formed from the core members Shirit Yarkony, Mark Nassutti, Ann White and Barb and Bob McMahon. They have joined forces to investigate what the possibilities are for extending the season for using the Vashon Pool, with a long term goal of exploring what it would take to turn the pool into a full time facility. At a meeting last night at the library, a group of people ranging from coaches to lap swimmers to concerned parents and school district employees all shared ideas about where they wanted to see the pool change and grow in order to reflect the needs of the community.  If you would like to get involved, check out the Friends of Vashon Pool page on Facebook, and do come to hear Lynne Cox this Sunday at the Vashon Theatre. On this Island, how many other speakers do you ever expect to hear that would have no problem swimming here if that was the only option?