For 41 years we’ve enjoyed our inexpensive, backyard swimming pool and have
enlarged it twice. It has a filtration system, narrow decks, a 4-foot fence
with locking gates and a telephone. It has no water deeper than five feet and
therefore no diving board. It began as a “fill and draw” large wading pool
made of concrete blocks. Although we’re more than 10 miles from town, people
wanted swimming lessons, so we enlarged it, and I taught hundreds of children
and dozens of adults. Nancy and Walt helped with the classes, and Nancy
finally took over the program when she was grown.
Many people have asked, “What did it cost?” and “What are the pros and cons
of pool ownership?” The joys outnumber the disadvantages, of course, and the
costs in the early 1950s are unrelated, now. Our answers about pros and cons
are general, and I’ll share some of that today. But don’t tell the kids or
neighbors if you are considering a pool. Wait until you decide that a pool is
right for you.
Here some general things that prospective pool owners should ask themselves:
Will a pool enhance the value of our property? How will it look in the
off-season? Is swimming more important to our family than another activity
that would require similar investments in money and space?
Can we afford decks, fence, gates, locks, vacuum cleaner, filter, chlorine?
Will insurance costs wreck our budget?
Will our pool be large enough when our toddlers and their friends are in their
teens? Who will use it when they get jobs and move away?
Will we need a special structure for telephone, toilet, chlorine, cleaning
supplies, testing equipment, vacuum, deck chairs, brooms, etc.?
Will our pool be just for swimming or will it include diving, which increases
costs and risks?
Who will be in charge of chlorination and filtration? Lifeguarding? Routine
maintenance? Accident prevention? First aid? Rescue? Opening in spring and
securing it for winter?
What shape will our pool be? Rectangular shapes permit races, teaching, games,
etc. When someone says, “Let’s race across,” in a round or kidney-shaped
pool, swimmers might bump heads!
Beware of the “four-year fiasco.” A student of mine returned from a summer
with her son’s family in California and said, “It was wonderful! They’ve
bought a home with a swimming pool.”
The next year she reported, “We had friends and neighbors all the time. I
cooked hamburgers for a dozen kids many days.” The third year her report was
less enthusiastic. “People leave their children to swim and go to shop or
play bridge; it’s a big responsibility looking after those kids.” The fourth
summer, “Oh, they’ve sold that place and bought a home without a pool.” Plan
ahead to avoid this fiasco.
We enjoy having neighbors and friends here, a few at a time. We ask them to
call to be sure we’re home. An adult must be responsible for safety. We
suggest that no one take little fellows to the deep water lest they venture
there later, unsupervised. Swimmers use an outdoor “john” and we do not
serve refreshments. Sometimes we join them in the water, and other times we
wave and go on with our work.
Swimming is fun, healthful and an essential skill for hunters, boaters,
canoeists, ice skaters, scuba divers, fishermen -- almost everybody. The joys
and rewards of pool ownership far outweigh the problems. When you decide, tell
the kids, call the contractor and go full speed ahead!