The Trouble with Swimming Pools

by Chris McGinty of

I’m not sure why it is that we
humans enjoy water so much. I get the part about drinking it so that you don’t
die a slow, horrible death. Seems pretty obvious. But why is it that we are
drawn to water as a means to relax? There are theories that it’s like being in
the womb, and there is the part where 572% of our bodies are water. Or maybe
that’s how much of the Earth is covered in water. Either way, we like water and
not just to drink. We like to swim. We like baths and showers sometime after
the age of 17. We’ll even run through sprinklers as kids for amusement. So
let’s talk about one of the all-time most popular summer activities. Sleeping
in until noon… Oops, I mean going to the swimming pool.

I remember that my mom took me to
swimming lessons when I was really young, and all I really remember about it
was learning to hold my breath. Later, I would continue learning to swim in my
grandparents’ pool. I had floaties, of course, but I was getting the hang of

My grandpa had to go check the
chemical levels of the pool each day, and I would go out with him to watch. One
of those days, while he was taking readings, I got a little close to the pool
and fell in. Even way back then there was a gap in my memory from watching my
grandpa check the chemical balance, and suddenly being in the pool treading
water looking up at my mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa, all watching me swim. I
have no idea how I fell in, and it always seemed to me like I’d blacked out
very briefly while my body kicked into survival mode.
As a public service announcement,
this is the most important reason to safeguard pools and pay attention when
your kids are near a pool. My second ex-wife told me a story when we were
married that the three youngest kids were swimming, and she was out with them.
My stepdaughter was around eight at the time, my son about six, and my youngest
daughter around three. My wife at the time decided to mow the backyard since
the kids would be in view, the two older kids could swim, and the youngest was
standing outside of the pool until she was done mowing, since she couldn’t be
in the pool without her.
I think that my stepdaughter and my
son got out for a minute to go get toys or something, and in the very brief
time that they got out and their mom looked over to check on things, our
youngest had fallen in and was face down because she had the floaties on, but
didn’t have enough training swimming. It was only ten to fifteen seconds and
she was fine, but it freaked her mom out. It’s not like she wasn’t watching, or
otherwise being neglectful. It just happened really fast, like when I fell in
at my grandparents’.
Back to summer at my
grandparents’ house. They had a tape recorder that they let me have. It was
old, ugly and mono, but it recorded, and so I was recording songs from the
radio. The tape recorder didn’t have a radio, mind you, so I was recording by
putting it next to the radio and telling everybody not to talk or jump in the
The three songs that I remember
recording were; “Africa” by Toto, “You Are” by Lionel Richie, and “Time (Clock
of the Heart) by Culture Club. A quick search of those songs shows that it was
the summer of 1983. That would make me almost ten years old, so me falling into
the pool must have been a way earlier visit. The point is that somehow once
again, my grandpa set me down the path of piracy. And because of that Lionel
Richie and Toto all died in poverty. That last part is just conjecture based on
reports of how piracy causes artists to starve and terrorist to run rampant.
Culture Club survived because for my birthday in 1984 my parents bought me a
stereo tape player, and I got a paid for copy of “Colour By Numbers.”
Nathan had a swimming pool at his house in Rhome, Texas. It probably had foundation issues.
Speaking of music and the summer,
one of my favourite memories was hanging out with friends that I made from the Fort
Worth/Dallas local music scene on the Fourth of July. When my first band split,
the drummer of that band joined another band where he met a woman named
Kristen. I became friends with Kristen, because we can talk for hours about
everything and nothing. When that band fell apart, Kristen joined a band called
The Crazy Ivans. The nice thing about this was that I didn’t just like their
music from the perspective of hanging out with your buds on a Friday night
listening to their set. I actually enjoyed their music as a fan. This meant
that I showed up whenever they played and we got to know each other, and I was
invited over for a Fourth of July lunch and swimming party.
The reason why this ended up being
fun aside from the obvious lunch and swimming party part was because they had
been working on a new song, and I was one of the first people not in the band
to get to hear it. It’s also one of only two times I heard the song played
The Crazy Ivans – My Favorite Song
But this is about swimming pools.
The reason I bring up this day was because there was a big pool at the
apartment complex, and we set out after lunch to go swim in it. When we got
there we were turned away by the maintenance of the apartment complex. They
said that the chemical levels of the pool were shot, because too many people
had swam that day. The guy said, “You really don’t want to swim in there. It’s
probably pretty disgusting by now.” They were sending people home as we got
there. He did tell us where to find another pool though, so we went to that
one. There was nobody else at that pool, so that was probably better anyway.
By the way, public pools and
diving boards… super fun. I hear that some places are getting rid of the high
dive. So sad. I’m going to do an article one of these days about how we’re
currently an overcorrecting society. There are likely more deaths in car
accidents every year than from diving boards, but we’re going to get rid of the
diving boards and introduce “self” driving cars.
I guess the final story I’ll tell
is also about swimming pools and chemicals. I mentioned that during my second
marriage we had a swimming pool. It was an above ground pool, and we had a lock
on the gate leading up to the deck, and the proper locks and such on our gate
leading into the yard. None of that was quite as bad as how much it cost to
keep the chemical levels correct. Swimming pools can be expensive. The kids had
a blast though, so it almost feels worth it. It was just a constant, “Hey, can
you pick up a package of Shock?” (I think that’s what it was called.) We
figured out that keeping up the pool probably cost a few hundred dollars that we
just didn’t really have at the time over just one summer.
Chris McGinty is a blogger who
doesn’t currently own a pool. Hmm. He’s not sure when the last time he even
went swimming was. You know, when it didn’t involve the deep undercover
government team he’s part of that he really shouldn’t be bringing up here.
Although, that mission to [REDACTED] where we [REDACTED] to kill [REDACTED] was
so much more fun than the time we were hired to fake the [REDACTED] landing.

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