It is pretty easy to take for granted some of the wonderful amenities that exist in the communities in which we live. Perhaps what is even worse is to almost completely ignore those amenities.
One of those wonderful summertime amenities, the Troy Aquatic Park, recently closed down for the summer. I would imagine that those good men and women in charge of the park were pretty happy with the park’s performance this year. It seemed that our little corner of the Earth had plenty of hot and sunny days when folks could enjoy this wonderful facility.
And while we can talk about revenue and attendance and the number of nachos sold, there is more than just the numbers that equate to a wonderful year; there are stories. Even my own story.
Growing up, I never really went to the city pool. Not sure why, but it never made the list of summertime activities. Perhaps this had to do with my own unfound fear of water. My earliest experiences of swimming include me being that kid at the Lincoln Community Center who always bit the swimming instructor on the arm. Yeah, I was that kid.
The few times I did go to the city pool, it seemed terribly intimidating. Lots of kids, lots of water. And of course, myself failing swimming lessons for obvious reasons, the pool was not a “go-to” destination.
But something changed and that change happened this year. It was shortly after Memorial Day and the family wanted to go to the pool. I was agreeable to it and had a good time splashing around with the kids in the pool. It was at that moment the challenge was made, by no less than my 9-year-old son.
He proudly announced to me that he was going off the diving board and I had to follow him. I am embarrassed to admit it, but my 38-year-old self had never walked onto a diving board, let alone jumped off one.
Well, I couldn’t back down. There was no way I was going to let down my 9-year-old son. We got out of the pool and went to the diving board. Of course, he was experienced at it. He went to the end and just jumped. His little head bobbed up and swam to the side.
The pressure was on. I walked to the end of the board, held my breath and jumped right in. I floated to the top and that was pretty much it. It certainly wasn’t dramatic, but it was still a milestone in personal growth (perhaps 30 years too late, though).
But something else happened in that jump, it lead to a new appreciation for the memories and times I was going to spend at the Troy Aquatic Park with my family for the rest of the summer.
And yes, memories were made. It was amazing to see the progress my 6-year old daughter made in her own swimming abilities. In late May, she was attached to the water wings she would wear on her arms as she floated around the deep end of the pool. By August, the water wings were replaced with diving rings. She is now fishing things from the bottom of the deep end of the pool.
Of course, she can’t wait for the pool to open next year. At the end of this year, she was still a good two inches too short to go down the huge water slides at the park and by next May, she should be as good as gold.
And of course, all of these memories couldn’t happen with the wonderful staff, including the lifeguards that were on careful watch. To a person, they were all very nice and very responsive, even when they would occasionally blow their whistles to keep in line unruly behavior. And yes, even the whistle was blown at me once this year.
Hopefully, when the folks that run the Troy Aquatic Park look at the numbers from this year and start doing the number-crunching, they remember that need to add one very important statistic, they added one new aficionado for the diving board.
William “Bill” Lutz is executive director of The New Path Inc. He can be reached at [email protected]