Everybody out of the pool, but then where to go?

When I was little, I wanted a swimming pool. My big sister wanted a horse, I wanted a backyard pool, and we were forever coaxing our beleaguered parents to make our wishes come true. We knew our chances were highly unlikely, but we begged anyway.

Our requests didn’t fall on completely deaf ears. My sister took horseback riding lessons. I joined a parks department swim team. To this day, a mere whiff of a chlorinated pool can send me back to that best time of childhood. I was old enough to ride my bike to Spokane’s Comstock Pool and swim the day away.

All this time later, I find few things more inviting than the smooth, blue surface of a swimming pool. In the past year, my boy and I have gotten into a Sunday swimming habit at Everett’s Forest Park Swim Center.

My 9-year-old is now skilled enough to swim on his own under the watchful eyes of lifeguards. He joins all the other dripping daredevils in line when they bring out the popular rope swing, leaving me in the solitary bliss of a lap lane.

Last Sunday, on a dark afternoon only a couch potato could love, our swim came with unwelcome news. A sign at the Forest Park Swim Center said the pool would be closed for maintenance from Nov. 22 to Jan. 1, 2008.

Oh, no. Just when kids need it most, to keep fit and burn off pent-up energy, the public pool is taking a vacation? What about all those swimmers we see on Sundays, the parents and all their children, the serious lap swimmers and the tattooed young people? Where will they go?

“It’s our annual scheduled maintenance,” said Kate Reardon, spokeswoman with the city of Everett. “The swim center closes for about six weeks every year to make sure things are in shape, everything is working right, and the heaters are on par.”

The Everett Family YMCA is a good alternative, Reardon said. During the closure, the Everett Y offers 30-day swim passes for $30 per person. Other area pools open to the public include the Marysville-Pilchuck High School pool, the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion, and the Lynnwood Recreation Center. Times and fees vary, with most city pools charging slightly more for nonresidents.

It won’t be the first time Everett has had to do without its public pool. In 2006, the Forest Park Swim Center was closed for nearly five months after a fire, believed to be arson, caused about $170,000 in damage. The fire did major damage to a structural support beam in the swim center that first opened in 1976.

In 2003, the Everett pool was closed three months for a $270,000 renovation. Heating equipment was replaced, and the 5,000-square-foot, 240,000-gallon pool was caulked and repainted. A storm ripped the Everett pool’s original fabric cover in 1984, and a new roof was installed in 1985.

The Everett Y is an option, but with the pool’s low ceiling and closed-in atmosphere it can’t compare to the airy ambiance of Forest Park, where swimmers enjoy a park view under a rustic, high-beamed ceiling.

Taking my son to birthday parties, I’ve seen other great pools around the county. At the Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion, swimmers enjoy a main pool as well as a “leisure pool” with geysers and a toddler island, and a “lazy river” with a slight current for inner-tube floating. There’s also a smaller pool for kids at the Marysville-Pilchuck High School swim facility.

In east Snohomish County, the new Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA is open for business, but the Snohomish School District’s public Hal Moe Pool has been closed for months because of structural problems. Near my house, the Everett Community College pool where I swam when I first moved to town has been closed since 2002. Its roof is in disrepair and the college lacks money to fix it.

In Everett, meanwhile, a recent parks and recreation study put a new pool at Thornton A. Sullivan Park at Silver Lake at the top of a wish list — with the provision that voters would say yes to a future parks bond.

If only wishing would make it so.

Columnist Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460 or muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Swimming options

Other area pools:

Everett Family YMCA, 2720 Rockefeller Ave., offers nonmembers a 30-day swim pass for $30 during the Forest Park closure. The YMCA of Snohomish County also has pools in Monroe, Mukilteo and Marysville. 425-258-9211.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School pool, 5611 108th St. NE. 360-653-0609.

Mountlake Terrace Recreation Pavilion pool, 5303 228th St. SW. 425-776-9173.

Lynnwood Recreation Center pool, 18900 44th Ave. W. Pool closed Dec. 24 to Jan. 2, 2008. 425-771-4030.

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