Yesterday I took four girls to the local outdoor pool for the first time. At only 19 degrees or so, I wasn't that interested in jumping in, so I read my book on a comfy deck chair.
The smell of the chlorine, laughter of the children and Janice Joplin and Rick Springfield on the radio all reminded me of my years at the Riverside Swimming Pool where I grew up. I think the pass cost in the neighbourhood of $50 for our family and we raced to get in line when they went on sale. It was prestigious somehow to have a low pass number.
For our family, that pass meant 9 people were allowed to swim every day from 1:00 - 9:00, and the kids did almost every day. We had to take a break for supper and the rule was that we had to be dressed when we sat at the table. If we were dry enough, we could slip a t-shirt over our bathing suit and trick my parents though. Why change if we were just going to jump right back in? Waste of time.
We couldn't afford swimming lessons, so we'd sadly watch the lessons take part in the mornings through the chain link fence. My own kids have done that with the soccer taking part a few feet from our house now. At noon, if we were keeners, we could get into the pool a bit early by joining the swim clubs - lane swimming, racing, and synchronized swimming. I did all of that and loved it.
I'm sure we were supposed to have adult supervision if we were under 7, but I don't remember swimming with my parents often. Maybe I squeaked under the radar by being tall and looking fairly competent in the water. I think we probably weren't really noticed in the hoards of kids rushing in the door at 1:00. Were there really that many kids? My memory has a full pool, but I know the local school wasn't that full.
At night, because 8 hours of swim time wasn't enough for some people, I remember boys climbing onto the low roof and swimming in the dark after hours. I also distinctly remember some of them riding BMXs off the roof to land in the water below. I didn't participate in that. I'm a rule abider for the most part (my current civil disobedience is not in character).
Anyway, sitting on the deck chair brought back all those memories. Our community league membership allows us to swim free for 2 hours most days in our local pool and we intend to use that priviledge a lot this year. If you've got a league in your neighbourhood, check it out to see if they offer anything similar. It's so worth it!