I was charmed and delighted to see the picture of the swimming pool group in the Chinook Observer recently, having been involved in many aspects of water experiences for 60 years and I am especially interested with the possibility of another pool being built in Long Beach.

But, here is a plea from the bottom of my heart. Can something be done to remove some of the "choke holds" that rule and eliminate the fun and exploratory experiences in today's pools? Yes, I know why they are in place, but after spending many years teaching children to be competent in water, I find it completely soul destroying to have to enter water by the steps only and swim in a solitary lane. It's like living in a straight jacket. It's easier to stay away from this learning experience entirely.

My body goes into automatic cruise control as I enter a pool. Check area and depth of water - level out in flight and skim through the cooling glycerin which quickly envelops me, while pent up stress leaves my body. Oops! No diving!

A few years ago I was invited to an outdoor pool. The pool was large and deep with very few people except about a dozen children of various ages. I swam myself out then did a flip in the deep end. It wasn't long before a couple of the children were asking me how I did it. I've been an instructor for years so the first thing on the agenda was safety! And, only one at a time, we all had very safe fun with the lifeguard watching over us. The following year no one was allowed to jump in or swim out of lane!

Fifty years ago, after being taught to swim and passing my lifesaving course in school classes, I became a member of The Voyagers! We were a group of teenagers learning about ourselves. Luckily we had people and facilities that helped to channel our eager energy. I entered many sports levels including springboard diving and have proof of some of my success. But none of this would have been possible without the freedom to try. (And I do not use that term lightly.) It is much safer for our children to enjoy themselves under constant supervision in a pool than to play in rivers and lakes on their own in hot weather.

Someone may be asking, was all my effort worth it? What does it do for kids in the long run? As a kid I learned poise and control. I mixed with good company and looked after my body in the realization that I was in control of my health and I learned how to set goals and work to achieve them. I leave you to be the judge. There are at least six people still alive today because I learned how to handle water skills as well as I did at unexpectedly lonely moments when there were no options.

These are the treasures of a lifetime.

So, come on guys - grant my wish for more freedom and more flexible times for open swims! Perhaps the local papers could show us evening schedules for kids of all ages or at least have schedules posted somewhere easy to find.

Dorothy Jackson


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