NKSD should save pool from ending up in the drink

There are two kinds of people in the world: sinkers and swimmers. I used to be a sinker. Now I’m a swimmer. It was a rough transition — one full of fear, trepidation, tears and a lot of outside encouragement.

As a lifelong sinker, I decided four years ago that enough was enough. I could swim enough to postpone drowning for a few moments and nearly died of fright at the thought of being in water over my head. Shakes, panic, tear-stained cheeks. The whole nine. Looking back on it, it’s quite embarrassing. But hey, everyone has their flaws.

Around these parts, a fear of water is a crippling one. Why? Look outside. There’s water everywhere. If you can’t swim in this part of the country, you’re literally putting your life on the line. Or at the least you’re missing out on a huge recreational opportunity.

And, since most non-swimmers don’t exactly embrace open water, a community pool is a vital amenity in the first step toward living the full Pacific Northwest experience. People prefer to swim in clear, clean water. Water in which geese don’t hang out, thereby decreasing the odds of getting swimmers’ itch.

In traveling the path from sinker to swimmer — I had my sights set on completing the Seattle Danskin triathlon, which entails a half-mile swim in Lake Washington — I began slowly. I started swimming laps in a community pool. At the time, I worked in Central Kitsap, so I swam in the Glen Jarstad Aquatic Center in Bremerton.

I also joined a local group called the Kitsap TriBabes, headed up by Seabeck’s own IronMan triathlete Lisa Ballou. Ballou is famous (and infamous) for taking 12 weeks of women’s lives in the summertime and transforming them from couch potatoes to triathletes. She uses e-mails to coax, push, cajole and inspire. To date, she’s turned nearly 200 Kitsap women into triathletes. I’m one of them.

Now, four years, four sprint distance triathlons, an Olympic duathlon and a two stress fractures (from running, not swimming) later, I’ve turned into quite the fish. Granted, I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m no longer a sinker. In fact, I’ve dropped in at the NK Community Pool on more than occasion to swim a few laps.

Being able to dive into water over my head — and having the confidence that accompanies that — is the most empowering feeling I’ve ever experienced. The thought that others might be robbed of that experience because the community’s pool might not survive the next round of North Kitsap School District budget cuts makes me feel like there’s a steel ball in my gut. It’s that very same steel ball that used to be there when I thought about swimming.

It’s not just about self-confidence. It’s about having a safe, healthy activity for families in the community. Sure, there are other pools in Kitsap, but not everyone has the time or resources to be able to road trip to them.

Every community should be so lucky to have a pool. And, if there is a pool in the community, it’s a pretty important asset to keep.

Here’s to hoping the pool either survives the next round of budget cuts or the community comes together to save it.

Celeste Cornish


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