I still consider myself a ‘northerner’ after having been born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. But, after having been in the Cincinnati, Ohio area for the past 20 years, specifically just over the river in Northern Kentucky, I’ve learned that southern living has wonderful benefits as well.
Separated by only 3 hours, my hometown and current residence generally share the same weather patterns, which means kids in both spots typically hit the summer club pools non-stop between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
I was a huge summer pool rat in my day, with my mom dropping me off in the morning for swim practice and not coming back to pick my sisters and me up until they pulled the chain across the entryway to lock up at dusk.
We’d build towel forts on the deck chairs, scrounge up spare change for pizza bagels during the adult swim and take turns trying out crazy positions jumping off the diving board.
The lifeguards at my pool wore t-shirts that read, “Lifeguarding: Adventures in Babysitting” across the back to capture exactly how much of a close little community we truly had for 3 months of the year.
In addition to straight-up fun, the summer pool offered some out-of-school structure in terms of morning swim practices, dual meets and the serious quest for the end-of-season league trophy. So serious that we devised team chants to the tune of “Go, Bananas…..Go, Go Bananas, Hey!”
The memories made at summer swim clubs stay with you forever and can serve as a source of positivity when times get bleak, as they seem to be sometimes nowadays.
With this in mind, I was disheartened to learn today that Covington, Kentucky, a city less than 5 miles from my current home, has already decided it will not be opening its public pools this summer due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Just like that. No towel forts. No back diving contests. No seeing how long you can stand to walk on the hot concrete before lunging for shade.
With the city’s decision, I am lamenting the mere escape that a summer pool provides youth everywhere. Paying a small fee to take a break from your home life, school life and everything else to dive into crisp water is something that symbolically cleanses you of stress, worries, and strife.
I wonder what kids will turn to in order to fill the void left by not being able to meet up with friends at the pool. Will they be back the following year? Will they drop off the summer swim league map? Will they take up other hobbies?
Or, will they yearn for the day they can dive back in as if they never missed a beat? Will their love of water build and build through these trying times to where they want to do nothing else but get back to their once-favorite social summer spot.