Monday, July 6, 2009

The Peeling Black Line

I tried to go swimming today.

When I say I 'tried,' I attempted to, and wasn't very successful at first.

I got there alright. I was fine then. It was entering the pool area. There were no lines outside in the lobby of the Walter Baker Centre. So I just went right in after realizing that, at 18, I was still considered a youth and didn't have to pay the increased adult price. I did what I would do in the locker room, then entered the pool deck to the newly renovated, maintained swimming pools.

No changes were apparent at first. They closed in late May and reopened today. Over a month they maintain and perform routine service on the pools once a year. They probably empty them as well. Sometimes I've noticed big changes, and other times barely any at all.

My first problem I had to get over in order to enter the water and freely swim was the surprise; hundreds of people were already there on the first day. Not to say that there were hundreds of civilians at the pool. Hundreds of children on summer swim camps were there. That would explain the sudden huge amount of persons at this place right when it opened.

Then there was the problem of getting into the water. I wanted to find a free place where it wasn't too clogged with kids or the rare adult (like myself). I didn't want to mix too much with the younger people because I was a lone adult by myself so it would look kind of weird if I did. I know. One time, while with my half-brother at a public outdoor pool downtown, meant for kids (at its deepest it was about three feet), two young adults entered the pool and spent five minutes walking back and forth in a diagonal across the pool, amongst the three-to-eight year olds, talking to each other. They kind of looked out of place and weird. Maybe they came to casually cool down their lower legs, but that wasn't the best place to do it I think. So in my case I had to find a clear spot.

Five minutes later I slipped in. And I couldn't move elsewhere, because again, dozens of kids crowded around me, bouncing in the water, trying to touch the bottom (this was the deep pool), and otherwise hogging the small empty spaces around me. I looked up to see a lifegaurd standing on the deck nearby. He looked oddly familiar in some way. Hadn't I seen some sort of photo of him somewhere?

When I went out into the vast expanse of water in the middle of the pool, I was practically trapped. I couldn't move much elsewhere because people and kids took up this space as well, to swim across. If I tried the ledge, well, you know what it's like at the ledge. Soon I realized the only clear way was down.

So in the end I spent a lot of time on the bottom of the pool, where the only people there were the ones trying to get to the bottom and the very few who could also get down there. I've built up the time I can be under water long enough to be able to get down there and stay down there for as long as almost thirty seconds.

Later, when I was walking along the deck trying to cool off from the hot tub they have, I came up to that lifeguard again. Suddenly noticing me, he whipped around in surprise. There was a look of surprise on his face that almost looked comical. If I recognized him in some way...maybe he recognized me in some way too? Oh! He went to school with me! Years ago! When I was in grade nine and he was in grade 12...but I can't remember his name. And whether or not he was that lifeguard for sure.

We'll see. When I entered the deep pool, I noticed the first difference in the renovations they'd done - a black strip that marked the edge of the ledge people stand on in the deep pool. And it was already peeling off in massive pieces and littering the bottom.

Next year they'll either replace that with a stronger applicant or use tiles. Those things never last. Finally, as all the kids jumped off the diving board they'd been using at all times, swam to the ledge and got out to pack up their towels and leave, the whole pool deck and all three pools were left almost completely empty, with the odd person, couple, adult and straggler like me.
Ah, too boring. Might as well leave. And with that that effort to get in!

-Justin C.

No comments: