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By RICK BOSTON
Staff Writer 

Hershberger Pool is the Perfect Escape

 


This past weekend I took my 10-year-old daughter swimming at the Hershberger Memorial Pool at Morrisons Cove Memorial Park. I’m not a swimmer but I know how to swim. A close call when I was a child made learning to swim mandatory, but also led me to avoid going in a pool unless necessary.

My daughter on the other hand, loves the water, and with the thermometer creeping toward 90 degrees this past Saturday, a day at the pool seemed like the best way to cool down.

The place was packed. I won’t try to guess how many people were at the pool, but the closest parking we found was at the bottom of the lot near the street. Crowds tend to intimidate me but when it comes to your kid, you go outside your comfort zone to make them happy.

Raising a kid on your own forces you at times to do things you don’t really want to do, and sometimes introduces you to things you never thought you would enjoy, but I was pretty set on not going in the water. I dressed for swimming just in case she wanted me to go in the pool, but I wasn’t going to be the first to bring it up.

Once inside I settled on the only open bench, sprayed sunscreen on my daughter, and settled in to watch.

What I saw was amazing. I didn’t realize it right away, but as the afternoon wore on and I watched my daughter and at least 100 or more people splashing around the pool, jumping off the diving board and sliding down the slide, it hit me. All these people, people of all shapes and sizes, from babies to the elderly, were simply enjoying life, and more importantly, enjoying it together free of judgment.

I watched as the lifeguards, members of that much-maligned group called teenagers, looked intently, but not overbearingly, over the swimmers with their focus on keeping everyone safe. On the rare occasion a lifeguard had to blow their whistle when someone broke a rule, like going down the slide headfirst instead of the posted rule feet first, or a group of kids getting a little too reckless playing water football, the offending parties apologized, and everyone went back to their fun with no hard feelings.

Hiring a lifeguard is not a task any pool should take lightly. They should be a combination of friendly but firm when enforcing the rules while not coming across as “bossy.” Nobody has fun if they feel like a lifeguard is just waiting to catch them at something so they can exercise their authority. The crew of lifeguards that Park Director Chuck Gojmerac has assembled this summer should be the standard for all public pools. These kids have taken on a great responsibility and from what I have seen, they take their jobs seriously and enjoy watching people have fun.

There has been a lot of anger and division in this country. From the 2020 election, pandemic mandates, rising costs of gas and food, and the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v Wade, there are few places you can go without hearing an argument, or at least a “passionate discussion” about the state of the world.

But as I sat there watching people swim, whatever was going on outside the gates of the Hershberger Memorial Pool didn’t matter. I’m not saying that the people at the pool didn’t care about these things, I’m sure most of the adults have some pretty strong opinions, but for that afternoon, I didn’t hear anyone bring them up.

Chuck and his crew have created an atmosphere where everyone can go and just simply have fun. The people who patronize the pool have come to recognize the pool as a place where you can leave your troubles outside the gate for a few hours and simply enjoy life the way it’s intended.

I did wonder if that Saturday was an anomaly and I just happened to get lucky that day, but we went back for a swim on Sunday, and the experience was the same. Except for one thing, I did get in the pool this time.

Editor’s Note: Gary Baranec, photographer, was also at Hereshberger Memorial Pool on Saturday. Check out Page A-3 to see a glimpse of this day.

 

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