BY JUSTINE SPORE —
April 11 was the day I had been awaiting for months. But this wasn’t the day I received a scholarship, or heard back from a prestigious college. No, this was the day that the Shorewood Vernor H. Esser (VHE) pool re-opened for public use after nearly two months of maintenance. Yes, finally, I could return to the spacious and bright lanes of the VHE. As an athlete that swims regularly during open swim hours to maintain my fitness, I find that the closing of the pool for this maintenance is both untimely and unnecessarily prolonged.
Although the Shorewood pool in the gym building remains open for community members while the VHE is closed, this smaller pool only has four lanes, and is dark and dingy. During busier hours of the day, this means that even with each swimmer sharing a lane, it allows for eight total swimmers. More than once, I was forced to circle-swim with two other people in a lane. In most cases, this would be practical, except that during public swim hours, each swimmer is doing a different workout, going different speeds, and doing different stokes. This arrangement is incompatible, causing collisions.
Of course, this is better than having no pool. I appreciate the opening of the SHS pool while the VHE is closed; however, this closing continually falls during the spring season when most people use the pool, creates shorter and less frequent hours, and remains closed for an incredibly long time.
Every time the VHE is closed for maintenance, it happens during the spring. This is one of the most important times for community members and athletes to be cross training in the pool. Generally, the weather is still too cold and wet for anyone to exercise outside, creating a demand for other methods. It’s also incredibly important for student athletes to cross train, and the pool is an excellent source for this. The closing falls on the break in the season of the Shorewood Swim Club, and while this works well for those swimmers, it causes a burden to fall on other community members.
On top of this, the open swim hours in the smaller pool are during inopportune times during the day. Gym classes use the SHS pool during the VHE’s closing, which means that often, the pool isn’t even open for community members, and decreases the hours that it may have been open for other swimmers.
If the pool were to undergo this cleaning during the summer, community members would not be affected as severely. First of all, the weather would be nice enough that regular swimmers could exercise outside. The hours for the smaller pool would be lengthened and become more frequent, as we would not be fighting for time with the gym classes. Additionally, there are Shorewood Swim Club breaks that fall during the summer, so this solution would not affect their workouts. As a community member and student athlete, I am grateful to have such a great facility so close to where I live; however, I think there are improvements to be made when the pool undergoes maintenance.