Moving to a small town from the Glebe was a huge social and emotional change for our family. I had a one year old and was 8 months pregnant with my second child. I needed to find my cohort, others who were in the same stages of life. Somewhat exhausted and needing to cool down during the oppressive summer heat I headed to the local outdoor pool during a family swim session. Over the summer months, those family swim sessions became a welcomed source of socialization. Each of us would all smile as we attempt to engage in conversation while our babies pulled at our swimsuit straps. Without hesitation I can say all of us enjoyed the refreshing cool water, but we were also thankful for the moments of connectedness.
I found the environment and staff welcoming. It was easy to go to the pool, effortless really. I never once felt judged by my ever morphing, baby producing body. If anything it became a point of laughter on many occasions by staff, commenting how big my growing belly grew. As a result of our high frequency pool attendance and the professional staff, the children began to swim early and build relationships with the staff that extended beyond the pool enclosure.
At 5 years old, during one of her first swimming lessons, KT was asked by one of the guards to try out for the swim team. She was instantly welcomed by the swim team and began to have success in the water. I met a group of parents who without pretension welcomed me and explained the nuances or swim team. Seven years later my oldest is a competitive swimmer, where she has flourished in her chosen sport, found a cohort of swimmers she calls friends and set her life on a path of athleticism.
My middle child, found the water to be therapeutic and calming. In a quiet moment, after a swimming lesson, she told me that she loved the water because it made everyone just like her, unable to hear properly. One chilly July morning, AndiePandie age 4, wearing a Dora the Explorer swim suit & her hair swept up in pigtails, asked the 18 year old male lifeguard if his penis shrunk in the pool like her new little brother’s did in the bath tub. The lifeguard never even blinked, he just smiled. He gave me a quick glance and told Andie it was time to start the lesson. She took his hand, walked to the deep end and simply told her our bodies do all kinds of funny things when it was cold. It was all Andie needed to hear and began her lesson. Andie swims each summer with our swim team and loves her time in the water racing.
Our youngest Beckett, has a slight fear of water. The staff over the past 5 years have encouraged and challenged him. This year, along with swimming lessons, he will join the swim team and begin racing. That would never have been possible without the amazing staff our community recreation director hires and trains.
Our pool, our community hub opens today. There are many returning staff members and we have already made plans to be at the pool opening, attend swimming lessons and be part of the swim team. This is our happy place to be active as family, it has where I have met the most amazing cohort of swim team parents and I cannot wait for our seasonal ritual to begin. Where is your happy place?