Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tale of two pools

Summer here in SE PA is fairly short: swimming pools open around June 15 and close around August 30. There might be some variations. Public facilities are few and far between - most people either have pools or join a private swim club.

When we moved here last year we were told we must join a club. It was the only way to go, people said. Now I am not used to that. In Oregon we had a nice parks and recreation district with indoor and outdoor pools, swim lessons and open swim times. It wasn't free, but unless a family wanted to swim every day, it wasn't prohibitive.

Anyway, just another difference to get used to. We asked around about public pools and learned that our town does have one. But several people told me that we wouldn't like it, we shouldn't go there, and should just join a club. Clubs cost around $400 and up. That's per year - which is really about 2 and a half months. Wow. We'd have to do a lot of swimming to make that worth the money! Like, every day! I thought of my dad and our infrequent trips to the Lakeshore Smorgasbord: "What do you mean you're not that hungry? You'd better eat so we get our money's worth! GO GET SOME MORE FOOD!"

OK, back to the pools. So why did people tell me not to bother with my town pool? There is no way to put this delicately: because, they said, "you'll be the only white people there." Really, no lie. What is the proper response to that?

Last year we just never made it to any pools. This year I was determined to check out our town pool, and so we did. And they were right: other than a few employees, we were indeed the only white people. But of course no one hassled us, and the kids had a good time. The pool was fine; clean and nice, though there was no deep end and no diving. There was a grassy area around it, but this being a city-maintained pool it was not real well-kept. There were some vending machine with chips and pop. It cost $1 for my kids and $2 for adults, so if all 4 of us went, $6 a swim.

Today we were invited to to go someone's swim club. What a difference private ownership makes! This pool was beautiful, surrounded by lush green lawns and nicely-placed flower beds. The pool had lots of room, went to 12 feet and had 2 diving boards. The smells from the snack bar were lovely. (Though I noticed they do not sell iced coffee, losers.)

I figure we'd be likely to go swimming 10 times a year, maybe 15, though it's already too late for that this year. At $495 for membership, that's a pretty steep per-swim fee. If my math is right (always questionable), we'd have to swim over 80 times over the course of the season to make that pool membership cost-effective compared to our town pool.

The kids got just as wet and had as much fun at the town pool. At both pools they had to avoid rowdy kids who didn't pay attention to others. The lawn was nicer at the private pool but either way I got to sit in the shade and watch the kids play. With no deep end I can probably relax a little more and read, maybe. I don't need snacks and I can always bring my own iced coffee. What's not to like about the public pool?


SmallWorld at Home said...

I LOVE this post. I love YOU for writing this post! And I'm quite envious that your pools are open until Aug. 30. Our pools close...tomorrow. Oh, that would be because the schools here started last week and today.

Oh--you won! Come visit my blog to find out!

Marbel said...

Wow, I won? I don't often win. Well, that ipod and a 1/2-case of cheap beer at a church picnic once.

Bummer about the pools closing so early. Can't kids swim after school?!

G said...

"The only white people"... reminds of moving into this neighborhood last year, and the woman from across the street coming by, thrilled to see a "white family" moving into the neighborhood.

$495 a year IS a lot. Enjoy the public pool while summer is still here!

Barbara Frank said...

Aren't you lucky to have a nice public pool nearby? That vs. the $495 club...I can see why you chose the public pool.

As for the racism in the warning about the pool, it's sad and too common. My sister has two boys (one biological, one adopted). Both are biracial. You would not believe the comments she still gets, and her eldest is 11. Sheesh!

gatabaja7 said...

At six dollars a person thats great! I wish my public pool was that cheap, no matter who went! What does it matter the color or those who go to the pool. people are people, whoever or whatever they look like.

its sad that people would think like that. oh well...

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