That is where I first took my children swimming when they were young. I would take them to swim lessons in the morning, pack a lunch, and after lunch we would stick around and they could swim. It was a fine way to spend hot summer days.
That pool no longer exists. It was replaced by the much fancier, much nicer pool at the Ernsthausen Recreation Center. I should say pools plural – whereas the old city pool was one rectangular outdoor pool, we now have two indoor pools, an outdoor pool and even a splash pad – but more about that later.
When the Ernsthausen Recreation Center pool opened, my kids took swim lessons there. We had a family membership and we took advantage of the many family-friendly offerings at the pool as well as the gym. But somehow, as the kids became older, we let the family membership lapse and I rarely went to the rec center at all.
Then came this past Fourth of July, and a several-days visit from my son, his wife, and their two young children. It was hot on the few days before the Fourth, and I was trying to figure out things to do with my 1-year-old and 2-year-old grandsons.
Enter the Splash Pad — new this year at the Ernsthausen Aquatic Center. Although I hadn’t been to the rec center pools for years, it seemed like a great idea. And it was.
Cost: free for children 3 and under; $5 for students and $7 for adults, but I used the three complimentary passes the city gave us for being one of the families asked to fill out the city’s survey this year.
As we approached the building, I couldn’t help but smile. Wonderful memories of bringing my children there flooded my brain. And the outdoor pool and splash pad didn’t disappoint.
My two little grandsons have a “splash park” in Dallas which they love, and they enjoyed ours tremendously as well. Our splash pad is the perfect place for little ones, who can run through various sprinklers, put their little hands on spurting water, and not risk drowning because there is no deep water.
They enjoyed the big pool as well. It starts out at zero depth, so they could stay in the shallow part and still practice floating (under the watchful eye of their parents and grandmother and aunt).
There is a playground area outside the pool where the kids can play, especially useful during the break time when all children have to leave the pool for a rest. The 1-year-old thought the time he had to leave the pool was quite unfair.
I came dressed in shorts and a tank top, figuring I would just watch from the sidelines. I took along my bathing suit but figured I wouldn’t wear it — I did not want to be seen in a bathing suit when there might be people I know there to see me past my bathing suit prime, if I ever had one.
After about 15 minutes of caring how I looked, I changed my mind. Soaking in the joy of children frolicking in the splash pad and pool all around me (not to mention the heat of the day), I wanted to be part of it. I changed into my bathing suit and un-self-consciously enjoyed the pool and splash pad with my grandchildren.
So … if you have children or grandchildren who haven’t tried our new splash pad yet, try it. And if you haven’t been to the Aquatic Center lately, it is a wonderful resource for our community. Don’t worry about what you look like in a bathing suit — just enjoy!
Debbie Leffler is a free-lance writer who lives in Norwalk. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.