Opinion: Lamenting The Closure Of Nearby City’s Public Summer Pools


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.

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Tony Kirk
4 years ago

The physical process of preparing the pools and facilities is expensive and resource-consuming, and in many places where work would have begun six weeks ago, you may have whole areas coming out of stay-at-home orders at the same time, meaning that the facilities themselves wouldn’t be available until well into June/ early July at the earliest.

Add to that the fact that many summer facilities (and many of the staffing companies that provide guards for these facilities) have traditionally relied heavily on J1 visa labor (international students) which at the moment is almost completely shut down, meaning staff is unavailable.

There is also the problem of having sufficient guards… which has been a staffing problem nationally for the… Read more »

4 years ago

It disheartens me that decisions are being made now that can be made later. I understand the seriousness of this pandemic but this seems like the easy way out (just cancel it now and deal with it next summer). Kids are at risk of falling into unhealthy habits, in particular more screen time as if they don’t do enough of it already. Hold off on these decisions, and if there is a glimmer of hope that pools can be opened up in a different way (reduced schedule/reduced capacity/different rules at the pool), take that route.

Reply to  DebCT
4 years ago

Yeah who cares about slowing a pandemic, anyway??

4 years ago

It’s the right move. Allows lifeguards and everyone else time to find Plans B C and D. They’ll likely be open in 2021 once vaccine is ready.

NM Coach
4 years ago
Reply to  NM Coach
4 years ago

Significantly impacts training lcm in Mn if other cities follow that trend. Grew up there and at that time, most outdoor lcm pools were city owned.

4 years ago

They’ll probably be closed until the vaccine is ready and has been widely administered or widely available (6-16 months)

Does anything prohibit them from reversing this if things change?

Reply to  Teddy
4 years ago

Probably the lead time needed to prepare a pool – making any repairs from the offseason, ordering supplies for the summer, training and hiring lifeguards…

Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

Sounds right

If measures are relaxed, they can probably get them up and running in a month or less

4 years ago

Smart move – We don’t need this thing to take us. We might need the water in pools to drink!

Reply to  Ladyvoldisser
4 years ago

Your cringeworthy trolling is a harder pill to swallow than watching NCAAs 2020 and Toyko 2020 both get annihilated by a virus. Please do us a favor and find a new hobby, preferably away from this website.

Book it!
Reply to  200 SIDESTROKE B CUT
4 years ago

200 sidestroke B cut – I wish I could up vote your comment a million times.

Swim fan
4 years ago

Too early to make drastic decisions-let’s see how things go.

ct swim fan
4 years ago

Seems a bit early to me to be canceling stuff during the summer.

Reply to  ct swim fan
4 years ago

Not really when you think about it. Municipalities need money for essential services. With the future in question, the need to make sure that they have enough resources for essential services to be paid for for God knows how long. As much as we love the local pool, it is not essential and thus, goes to the back of the funding line.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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