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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 7, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Swimming cuts, pool closure

Loss of recreation, water-safety skills, rehabilitation

With “Water, water everywhere” [NWSunday, May 3], there apparently are fewer drops to spare for access to a lifelong physical activity that can provide recreation and rehabilitation, and literally save lives [“Down the drain,” Sports, May 6].

This is not to mention the loss of opportunities for fine athletes who carry this activity to Olympic heights and along the way encourage the participation of many others. It is hard to justify the immense attention given to other sports, whose players will ironically end up needing water exercise along with their arthritic grandparents.

In the south end of King County, a group of citizens is determined to save Evergreen Pool, which is scheduled for closure on June 30. This is a year-round pool, built by Forward Thrust funds. For the Highline-White Center community, lack of access to swimming lessons, water-safety training, recreation and water-rehabilitation programs raises questions of priority and fairness.

Pools were built throughout King County with Forward Thrust money and became part of Parks and Recreation. Access and affordability began to overcome cultural recreation barriers and save lives. Not knowing how to swim or how to respect water-safety rules is dangerous; just ask any fireman who has pulled a child out of one of our many unsupervised lakes.

In February 2008, King County launched the Equity and Social Justice Initiative to eliminate long-standing and persistent inequities and social injustices. One of the very neighborhoods that this initiative would purportedly address surrounds the Evergreen Pool. Now is the time for the King County Council to apply this initiative in a very direct way by securing the benefits of the Evergreen Pool to the entire community.

Perhaps the “wave” from the Evergreen Pool will eventually impact sports priorities at the University of Washington, where scholarships and lifetime experiences gained from team swimming can once again be woven into university life. Perhaps also, the beautiful waters that surround us will become more safe, enjoyable and appreciated by all of us.

— Rachael Levine, Seattle

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