Celebrating National Health and Fitness Day at Cranbrook Aquatic Centre
By Michael J Morris
In fact, although I have not kept an exact count, I think I have missed no more than 20 days in the two years of spending an hour at the pool, plus when it was closed or I was away.
Going to the pool has become an important part of my daily life, and along with doing my 10,000 steps a day program walking about the city, that's my fitness routine.
It really all started when I was in Orlando, Florida, visiting my friend Michael Pelzer, and going to the pool every day after an absence of at many years -- I learned to swim in the cold waters of Lake Windermere and the Chapleau River in Northern Ontario as a kid, but when I got all growed up, as so often happens, swimming wasn't really part of my life.
As I was leaving Orlando, Michael asked me if there was a swimming pool in Cranbrook, and when I said there was, he suggested I start using it.
So, immediately upon my return, I threw my swim trunks and towel in a bag and off I went. After proving I lived in Cranbrook, I paid for a month, and as I headed to the pool entrance, the lady at the leisure desk asked, "Are you going to start right now?"
"Okay but I should tell you there are 175 elementary school children in there>"
I hesitated for only a moment knowing that if I had not paid for a month and did not start then, I would not return.
There I was in the wave pool, never been in one of those before, and for an hour, I managed to dodge and avoid crashing into the kids.
In due course, I graduated to the big pool, and by this time I was chatting with some of the lifeguards, who, by the way, are exceptional people, all of them. I had the feeling from day one that they were watching me, and made me feel quite safe. One suggested that maybe I should use a "noodle" which I still use, but now I also am a "lane swimmer" and proudly do at least 250 meters a day, then putter around, enjoying the hour and watching all that's happening.
Recently, after chatting with the lifeguards, I have been participating in some "shallow aquatic" classes, and love ring around a rosy in the water which adds to the fun. Some have also been giving me swimming tips, and maybe the day will come when I no longer need the noodle. Actually, it is also my security blanket.
But going to the pool now is also a social experience. I particularly enjoy seeing parents and children there, and sometimes grandparents too. Last summer it was most gratifying to see a young chap come every day with his grandfather, and see his progress over the weeks his grandfather was visiting.
One night I watched two young fellows about 12 on the diving board. One was a pretty good diver, but his buddy not so. The better diver spent an hour patiently working with his friend -- and at the end, high fives! I also really enjoy watching good divers. I never was one.
Perhaps my favourite activity to watch, and way down deep I would like to try it, is the rope swing into the pool. It brings back memories of swinging out over the Humber River in Toronto on a rope tied to a tree and dropping into the muddy water, as a kid, a la Tom Sawyer!. At the pool when they are rope swinging, I hold contests, picking the male and female winner -- of course nobody knows until now that I do it.
Back to the lifeguards. Let me share just one example of how alert they are. One day a young fellow, maybe seven, was swimming from the deep end to the shallow end of the big pool. His mother was ahead of him, but it looked like the boy may have some trouble, and he was not wearing a life jacket. Suddenly, the lifeguard appeared on the scene very casually, not saying a word but prepared to act if need be. Happily the boy made it OK.
On Family Day in February, there was a free community swim and the lifeguards told me that more than 700 people attended over the afternoon. I was there for the first hour, and watching the lifeguards on duty was like seeing a security detail for an important person in action. They were spread out around the pools, rotating positions regularly like clockwork. constantly on the alert.
It is really amazing what one sees from my vantage point in the pool with my noodle.
On June 1 to celebrate National Health and Fitness day, there will be a free community swim at the pool -- aquatic centre -- in Western Financial Place, from two p.m. to five p.m. I will be there for a bit celebrating. Thanks to the lifeguards for looking after me these past two years, and to my friend Michael for suggesting I go to the pool. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.