My whole aquatic life revolved around the competitive swim world, which was located in places that were universities, my high school and for the summer months, a private club. Consequently, the idea of a public pools was new to me. I did not know other pools could exist outside the realm of watery tanks that were used for teams to train in. From this background sketch, I chose a location that was removed from the competitive world of swimming, as well as from an educational institution’s campus. So, I chose to explore the Salvation Army and Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center.
The building was new, pristine, and high tech. To enter the pool the fee was only eight dollars for a day. For an adult membership it is $43 dollars a month, allowing access to all things in the center as well as the ability to take all classes they offer for free. After having spoken to patrons at the pool, I learned that for those who live within a certain distance to the center actually have a lesser membership fee.
After paying my fee for entry I entered the standard locker room. There was nothing out of the ordinary about this space, but after exiting and seeing the pools, yes pools, my aesthetic appreciation of the building greatly increased. It was an absolutely stunning facility. Instead of being a traditional indoor pool, which is usually darkly lit, the Kroc Center had many windows that allowed for the pool to have an ethereal glow that was otherworldly. The facility had exactly three pools. One pool was a lap pool, the other was a fun play pool for children, and the third was a hot tub. Visually feasting on all the watery adventures that were about to be had I eagerly put on my goggles and jumped into the pool.
The water felt incredible. It was cool. It was refreshing. It was sensual. These were all elements that the waters of the PAC do not have. It was also fast water, which made me feel like a speedy dolphin gliding through it.
After 200 yards of playing with the speed of the water, I stopped to look around at the pool’s community. My first observation was not of the visual but of the auditory. Loud up beat workout music was blaring, which further elated my mood. It made my swimming become a happy medium; I got the silence of the water but the inspiration of sounds when I was tired. The culprits of the music were participants of a water fitness class. The class looked like the most enjoyable workout I have ever seen, they worked hard but had an easy nonchalance about themselves. All the participants were visibly happy. They were laughing, they were working, and they were swimming. Contradictory to our historical readings of pools this class had mixed races, and was the epitome of ebony and ivory living in perfect harmony. There were three other lap swimmers in the water with me. All were white, but all were of different ages. To my left was an elderly woman dominating her workout and to my right was a middle-aged man, and to his right was a young adult who appeared to be in her late twenties. Over in the “fun” pool there was a white mother with her infant daughter. She was teaching her how to swim and was getting her acquainted with the water for the very first time. There were also three young black boys happily giggling and playing over there as one of their mothers was taking the fitness class.
My experience at the Kroc Center was wonderful. It has been so long since I’ve broken away from the serious lap swimmers of the PAC community to remember that the water actually brings joy to communities and actually helps bonds people together. All the members at the pool were talking with each other, and were very pleasant towards new people, like me, at the pool as well. There was also never a moment of the dead haunting silence that may be ubiquitous at other pools. Instead the environment was filled with life. This became my favorite aspect about the Kroc Center’s Community, because after being isolated under the water it was great to have the social contact that allowed me to relocate myself from the mind games of the workout set.