My children were born in Ohio, and their early years were spent there. We belonged to a club with an outdoor pool, where we spent a multitude of happy summer hours. Although there were some earlier swimming lessons at a YMCA, it is this pool my daughter remembers as the place she began to love to swim.
On a visit to Ohio years later, we stopped in to “see the pool.” To our horror, we found the club to be in disrepair. There were broken-down buildings and many symptoms indicating that it had not been used for recreation for quite some time.
This past Monday, even before I saw it on Facebook, I learned of a major disappointment. (Bad news travels fast.)
The pool where my family (and countless others) spent ten-thousand-plus swim team-related hours is now closed. Permanently. Reading the news was like reading the obituary of an old friend. This time, it was not just my daughter who shed some tears.
|The full article mentioned in this Facebook post can be read by clicking here|
It's not like we hadn't seen it coming. The college has kept the pool open in recent years simply to meet a community need, without much college use of it at all. We have been warned for quite some time that if any needed repairs became too expensive, the college would not be able to make them. And now that day has come.
Sadly, as of yet there is no plan in place to replace this pool, the only indoor one of its size in Helena. Pools large enough to host competitive swim meets and swim team practices do not come cheap. A number of committees have formed over the years, and discussed the need for a new aquatic center. Unfortunately, no viable plan has ever been established. Yet, this community truly needs such a facility.
Helena is home to many swimmers. These include high school teams that have won Montana State Championships, a dedicated group of Master's and Triathlon swimmers, and a swim team club (established in 1973) of record-breaking Age-Group swimmers - a good many of whom have gone on to swim for college teams.
The loss of this pool will be felt deeply by people other than competitive swimmers as well. It has hosted a full and busy program of swimming lessons throughout each summer. Montana is a place with many well-used lakes and rivers. Every child here should have the lifesaving opportunity to learn how to swim. It will be a challenge now for the outdoor city pool and smaller facilities to provide enough swimming lessons, in addition to those they already offer, to absorb the necessary need.
I could list many other reasons why we need to replace this pool, but it would not be of major interest to most readers of this blog. It is my hope that it won't be long before Helena makes it a priority to build another one. In the meantime, I hope we figure out how to meet the practice needs of the competitive swimmers in this community, and keep their goals and hopes alive.
Today, all that I can do is grieve. It feels like we should hold a Vigil or a memorial service. Pay our respects to an old friend. Pull out and admire all the memorabilia and team trophies that have been stored over the years; souvenirs of achievements and friendships created by time spent at the Carroll College pool.
I want to give thanks to Carroll College, for the years they maintained this place where my own children became strong swimmers and developed the strength of character I recently wrote about. Without her “home away from home” (the Carroll College pool), my daughter's dream of attaining a scholarship and swimming on a college team would not have come true. It saddens me greatly that the children and teenagers of Helena now no longer have this particular means with which to fulfill their own dreams.
Farewell, Carrol College Pool. You will be missed - even more than many people yet realize.
It's a long shot, but because I never know who might read this blog, and you never know until you ask ...
Is anyone interested in financing or building a competition pool in Helena, Montana?
Has your community ever faced a similar challenge?
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!