I didn’t have particularly fond memories of visiting Spokane public pools during my childhood. I remember archaic shower/bathroom facilities plagued with an overpowering smell of urine. I remember cold, murky water filled with too many bodies to adequately move around. I remember unforgiving pool bottoms that would poke and irritate my feet. Needless to say, the choice wasn’t a tough one between going next door to my best friend’s heated pool or heading across town to the public pool.
How times have changed.
Upon moving back to Spokane, I learned that the public pool system, both at the county and city levels, had changed dramatically. And when I say “changed dramatically” I mean resoundingly for the better.
Gone are the unimaginative cookie cutter rectangle holes in the ground. The same places that once seemed to be decaying and unwelcoming have been replaced with state-of-the-art aquatic facilities. We are talking slides, whirlpools, zero entries, and play structures. Best of all (besides the fact that admission is FREE), these impressive pools are filled with crystal clear water set to pleasant temperatures.
Our family is especially thankful for these improvements as we are now frequent customers of the Spokane city pools. If last year was the summer of Chuck E. Cheese, this year is the summer of public aquatic centers. In the same way that Sloan and I went to Chuck E. Cheese every Saturday, we are now going to the pool every Saturday this summer. The entry process is so simple and the facilities so clean that we can’t stay away.
Ironically enough, not only are we returning to the public pools that I visited 25 years ago, but we are also returning to the same private pool I had so many fun times in as well. A couple times this summer we have visited my parents’ house and strolled next door to where my childhood best friend’s mom still lives. Ms. Kathy has been so gracious to allow my children to swim whenever they want. And whereas the public pools drastically needed to improve over the years, Ms. Kathy’s didn’t. You see, her pool has always been an aquatic oasis with beautiful surrounding vegetation, immaculate water, and the best-organized (and fully stocked) pool shed you will ever find. What a testament to Ms. Kathy that she has maintained her gem of a pool over the course of all these years.
I hope wherever you live the public pool choices are welcoming and adequate. If not, hopefully you have a neighborhood pool you can cool off in. Whichever option you choose, may the cooling and calm waters bring you much relaxation and happiness. Don’t Blink.