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SOP: ‘Save our pool!’

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade chats with pool advocates before the Wednesday city council meeting. - Brad Camp/Staff photos
Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade chats with pool advocates before the Wednesday city council meeting.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff photos

POUSLBO — Armed with signs of every size, shape and color, nearly 150 kids and adults marched through downtown Poulsbo Wednesday in support of the North Kitsap Community Pool.

Swim teams, coaches and parents alike chanted “save the pool, save the pool” while posters and placards sported similar messages.

One even proclaimed: “It’s my birthday and I want the pool.”

Passing drivers honked their horns and rolled their windows down to voice their own support as the group made its way toward the doors of city hall, where they continued to vocalize their message in solidarity.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade greeted the crowd and invited them to file through the chambers at the start of the televized city council meeting so their signs and spirit could be seen.

“This is a great demonstration of how much you care about your community’s pool and about your community,” she said. “I applaud you all for taking the time to come out here.”

The Kitsap Water Blossoms team was one joining the march. A synchronized swimming team, members said they live all over, from Poulsbo to Silverdale. Sixteen-year-old Kathryn Surber said closing the pool would be shutting down a staple the girls have long made a part of their lives.

“I really don’t want it to close because it’s been a part of our life for so long,” she said.

Team member Karen Harvey, 16, said her initial reaction to the closure was that they couldn’t let it happen. The team swims there four days a week, year round, and she said the closure would leave a hole in the girls’ lives.

“We’ve given up a lot of our life for synchro,” she said.

Coach Marina Morshead, 20, a former swimmer who also works at the pool as a lifeguard, said it’s a place that provides priceless skills and abilities to its patrons.

“I just think it’s really sad because it affects so many kids,” she said. “I’ve seen it give so many kids confidence.”

North Kitsap and Kingston boys junior swim captain Tyler Rencher, 16, spoke to the council on behalf of the marchers.

“For all my life, the pool’s always been there,” he said. “The pool has been a lot to me. It’s not just a pool of water, it’s a pool of memories.”

Rencher urged the council to support the place where he learned to swim and played as a child.

“It really did change my life for the better,” he said. “It is my hope, it is my prayer, that we can be able to find enough funding to save this pool.”

Many kids marching Wednesday planned to wear their swim gear to school and march before the school board meeting Thursday.

Susan Barrett, a special education teacher whose classroom is in the pool facility, said she sees the value the pool has in people’s lives every day.

She uses the pool three times a week as a PE course from her 18-21 year-old students. She said all special ed teachers use the pool for PE.

“That’ll be very, very sorely lost for my special ed students,” she said.

Barrett also works as a Special Olympics coach, and said the loss to her swimmers could be devastating.

“It’s everything to them, it’s just a huge part of their lives,” she said, adding swimming at another pool may not be an option. “To go out of district would be impossible for a lot of parents.”

The mother of an 8-year-old who takes swimming lessons, Barrett said she has yet another reason to hope the pool stays open, so her son can continue to learn water skills and eventually join the swim team.

For more information on Save Our Pool or to donate to the cause, visit savethenorthkitsappool.org.

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