What a difference a pool makes in a community

16387049_10155016389924612_4962935708272400344_n

Our gorgeous city pool, home of the Piranha Swim Team.

I’m researching the history of our swim club because it’s the 50th year since the Piranha Swim Team began. Plus, a big chunk of our family life centered around the pool and the Piranhas beginning with mommy and me classes, learn to swim, through the kids’ years with our team and their high school. Now my husband and I both swim Masters.

This project has been fun because it’s like putting together a complicated puzzle. I talk to a variety of people and learn about their love of swimming and how the team and city pool has impacted their lives. I’ve spoken with an “original” Piranha, who joined the team at age six from day one of the team when it was called the Palm Springs Swim Club. I’ve talked to a coach from the ‘80s who grew the team from a dozen swimmers to more than 150. 

I learned about a woman who was one of the team’s early coaches, Pearl Miller, who was greatly loved and respected by many—and found her US Masters records online. Coach Miller competed in her 70s through age 92! She began coaching the team at age 74 and held a contest to name the team. The top two names were Palm Springs Sunfish and Palm Springs Piranhas.

One of my longtime writing friends told me she moved from Montreal to work as an assistant coach for the Piranhas in the ‘80s. She said her career as a freelance writer and her marriage all came about because of her years on deck. She became close friends with several swim families including her future husband’s. Another swim family’s dad worked as the sales manager for KPSI, a local radio station, and hired her as a copywriter that spurred her career of decades.

IMG_7214

My kids and Angus the Guide Dog flunkie who inspired my son to fundraise at the city pool.

I remember with pride my son’s second-grade birthday party when he invited his class at school plus his swim friends. I was stressed about where we could host 50 kids.The pool at the time charged less than a dollar a kid and a pool party it would be. Then my son surprised me when I said he couldn’t have presents, because 50 presents were ridiculous. I thought about the nightmare of watching him open a stack of presents and what to do with them at home. He was okay with that and asked if he could request donations for the Guide Dogs of the Desert in honor of our Guide Dog flunkie Angus. He ended up raising close to $2,000 for Guide Dogs from the pool party, not only from his friends, but news spread and people showed up at the pool to donate.

Every year our Masters team raises money for Angel View’s Crippled Children’s Homes thanks to local CPA Steven Erickson who started the event. It’s a New Year’s Eve lap swim of 10,000 yards where we adults ask for sponsors and pledges. The pool is not just for kids, but it’s part of our adult community, too.

10414518_10153884367909612_2538747923449009259_n

Two of my friends swimming their 10k for Angel View.

 

The pool sees visitors from all over the world who enjoy lap swimming in our gorgeous pool while on vacation. The Piranhas host meets several times every year with literally a thousand families traveling from throughout the southwest United States to compete at a single championship meet and stay in our vacation resort town.

I think of all the kids who learned to swim at our city pool. It must be in the tens of thousands. Pools in backyards and condos are common in Palm Springs, where summer temps hit 90 to 126 plus degrees. Because pools are in backyards everywhere, children die from drowning. The city pool offers learn-to-swim and water safety classes. It’s literally a matter of life and death, not just recreation or sport, or a way to open doors for college. Think of those lives our pool and swim team have impacted.

From the World Health Organization:

Drowning Fact sheet
Updated May 2017:

In the United States of America: drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death in children aged 1–14 years.

Access to water

Increased access to water is another risk factor for drowning. Individuals with occupations such as commercial fishing or fishing for subsistence, using small boats in low-income countries are more prone to drowning. Children who live near open water sources, such as ditches, ponds, irrigation channels, or pools are especially at risk.

Teaching school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills is another approach. But these efforts must be undertaken with an emphasis on safety, and an overall risk management that includes a safety-tested curricula, a safe training area, screening and student selection, and student-instructor ratios established for safety.

How is the community pool part of the fabric of your life? 

imgres-1

Advertisements

How I Had Fun on New Year’s Eve

10655271_10208691950279957_6963185154156304747_o

Palm Springs Pool on New Year’s Eve

I did something I’ve never done before. It was on New Year’s Eve.

December was a crazy, busy month. I’m sure most parents can agree with how the clock runs out at the end of the day in December, and there is always so much more that needs to be done.

First, I loved having my two kids home from college. Don’t get me wrong about that. But, it does take time and effort on my part. My daughter came home as soon as she could before Christmas. My daughter’s trip was quick because she had to return for intense Christmas break swim training.

10413369_10153884367534612_5297851999787117254_n

Master Swimmers on New Year’s Eve

My son stayed through New Year’s and not only brought his girlfriend, but a couple from Sweden, who are here studying “abroad.”

Add that to a number of other Christmas duties, like sending out Christmas cards, gifts, and preparing our home for Christmas, and it was especially busy. Yes, I kept up with my various writing projects, too.

Which brings me back to New Year’s Eve—the last day of the year. What I did has to do with swimming (big surprise!) As a new swimmer who began US Masters Swimming in April, this was a big step for me.

10414518_10153884367909612_2538747923449009259_n

Two of my friends, Lori and Karla. They both swam 100 100s.

I went to the New Year’s Eve Masters fundraiser for Angel View, hosted by my kids age group and my masters team, Piranhas. I swam double what I have ever done in my life — 5,000 yards or 50 100s. I enjoyed being a part of the team and the effort. There were more than 40 of us in the pool, including my husband and many friends, swimming and raising money for a great charitable organization here in Palm Springs. #piranhapride!

“New Year’s Eve Angel View 100 x 100s” was started by managing partner of Maryanov Madsen Gordon and Campbell, CPAs, Masters swimmer Steven Erickson, along with our Piranha Swim Team CEO and Head Coach Jeff Conwell. Here are the numbers so far:

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 12.46.19 PM

The numbers from the Piranha FB page

I feel strongly about Angel View because my daughter and I volunteered for six years to bring a little joy to the people living in Angel View homes. It was an experience that we both benefited from, and helping there brought not only tears to us, but extreme moments of joy. You certainly learn to appreciate the basic things in life, like your ability to stand, walk and eat. 

“Angel View’s mission is helping children and adults with disabilities reach their maximum potential. Each year, we help hundreds of people make significant gains toward independence through three primary programs. We accept clients without regard to race, color or national origin. We make every effort to accommodate our clients’ cultural and religious customs.”

—from the Angel View website

1936441_10153884367479612_3601841501113921113_n

Coach Jeff with a few of the Angel View residents who visited the pool on New Year’s Eve.

936553_10153884367679612_6265775601943276244_n

Steven Erickson, who started this fundraiser four years ago,standing with my fellow swim mom and master swimmer Sunday, who swam 80 100s!