I am writing to alert the public that the presence of the only indoor pool for the tri-county is in jeopardy. I am referring to the pool at the University of Rio Grande. Before you pass this off as a frill or simply a recreational activity, please allow me to share some facts with you.
Next to motor vehicle accidents, drowning is the number 2 cause of death in Ohio. Without an indoor pool swim lessons, and life-saving classes will no longer be available over the winter months. This is the only place where lifeguarding classes take place in this area. This means that children will be even less prepared for summer water fun. It also means that lifeguards will not be able to become certified or recertified.
The University of Rio Grande houses the only indoor pool open to the public in a 50-mile radius. Next to Rio Grande, the closest indoor pools are located in Chillicothe, Huntington, Waverly and Athens. The pool is valuable to all ages. The Arthritis Foundation offers classes there providing therapy to adults. The pool can be used for private parties, aerobic exercise as additional training for high school and college teams. It is used for summer camp programs and has even been used for baptisms. In addition, the university itself offers classes required for Health and P.E. majors.
My personal experience has been as a child who took swim lessons there, and currently while my own two children swim for the youth swim team. My children have dedicated seven years to competitive swim training. There are others on the team who have dedicated even more time than that. The swim team consists of swimmers from Gallia, Jackson, Vinton and Mason counties ranging in age from 5-19. The achievements of these swimmers are recognized in the six states that they regularly compete in. Because of this, people no longer think we come from Mexico, and are aware of a small university in southeastern Ohio.
It has been devastating to the team these last months while the pool has been closed. They have missed half of this season. For some, this means that they have lost out on chances to compete in Zone Championships in Atlanta, Ga. Together, the team holds seven state championship records, and rankings within the top 10 of the nation. While high schools in Columbus and in surrounding areas have competitive swimming, ours do not.
This is the only means of competitive swimming available to our youth. But, the pool is not only important to these swimmers, it is an excellent health benefit to any who choose to use it. Many of the team have been able to manage asthma with only mild side effects due to their physical condition. It is a lifelong sport, and there have been many seniors who use it daily.
To the point, the pool is in desperate need of repair, The costs are more than what the university appears to be able to afford at this time. If you have concerns, or better yet, a means or interest to help resolve this dilemma, I urge you to call the University of Rio Grande. This pool is far too great an asset for the area to do without.