Event raises funds to provide scholarships for swimming lessons
Back and forth the swimmers went, coursing through the water at Fred Endert Municipal Pool with ease. No time was kept. No distance was designated.
Kids accelerate away from the starting line at the Run For The Pool, held Saturday at Fred Endert Memorial Pool and Beachfront Park. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
“I should’ve got my butt in the water for this,” Sheryl Snow said. Snow was among a collection of parents volunteering on behalf of the Crescent City Swim Club, acting as lap counters and voicing words of encouragement as time passed.
Outside, beneath a clear, sunny Sunday morning sky, runners of all ages and abilities loped around Beachfront Park. As with the swimmers, how far they ran and how hard they wanted to run was entirely up to them.
The expended effort was all for a higher cause.
The Promote Our Pool Foundation hosted its inaugural Run For The Pool event Sunday, an outdoor festival promoting water safety and celebrating the spirit of community recreation.
In all, the nine swimmers, 44 runners and six water joggers covered 87.42 miles, the bulk of which (67.5) came from runners. Swimmers accounted for 16.4 miles; water joggers, 3.54.
Each runner or swimmer received financial pledges, either a specific flat number or money to be donated for every mile or lap. Information on money raised was not available Monday. (Promote Our Pool president Susan Roberts said that “we know we broke even” in covering the costs for the event.)
Proceeds from the event will go toward scholarships covering part of the cost of swim lessons for young children and military veterans.
Dan Gray of Crescent City swims laps during Sunday’s Run For The Pool event at Fred Endert Municipal Pool. Gray completed 182 laps to help raise money for the Promote Our Pool Foundation. Del Norte Triplicate/Bryant Anderson
Promote Our Pool was founded in 2007 as Save Our Pool. The organization initially lobbied for renovations to be made to Endert Pool, which was built in 1965. Those were completed in 2008, at a cost of more than $1.3 million.
However, the pool is a money loser for the City of Crescent City. Promote Our Pool works with a two-pronged mission: Sustaining the only indoor public pool within a 212-mile radius of Crescent City and promoting outdoor activity in Del Norte County.
“It isn’t that the city isn’t supporting us,” said Promote Our Pool secretary Helga Burns. “We need to have a community support us.”
Other organizations joined in to promote the causes supported at Run For The Pool.
“We try to support Promote Our Pool because they support us,” said Janell Barneburg, one of Crescent City Swim Club’s volunteer directors. “They gave us about $3,000 last year. It’s awesome. To keep adding things to the budget is difficult. Sports is (typically) the first thing to go.”
Barneburg’s two children, 11-year-old Aaron and 9-year-old Anna, both compete for the swim club. They got their start in swimming with lessons at Endert Pool.
“With all the water we’re surrounded by, it’s important that kids know how to swim,” Barneburg said. “Way too important. The day’s going to come when (Aaron’s) friends are going to invite him to the river or to the lake — I want to know how he can handle it.”
Crescent City Swim Club aspires to become a competitive organization, with a full-time head coach and a full slate of scheduled events for participants.
“Really, really stress that — we need a head coach,” Barneburg said.
To raise additional money, swim club members conducted a “rubber ducky raffle race.” Rubber ducks sold for a dollar apiece were sent careening down the pool’s water slide, toward the opposite end. The first duck to make it determined the winner, who collected a share of the raffle proceeds.
The Del Norte High School steel band staged an outdoor concert. Young children were treated to games and activities such as sack races. Roberts was pleased with the turnout for the inaugural event and optimistic about the impression made on attendees.
“I would love to see hundreds of kids here,” she said.
Roberts took up swimming six years ago, inspired by the Crescent City Triathlon. She joined a three-person team to compete in the triathlon (she rode in the bike portion) the next year, then struck out on her own. Now, she competes in triathlons around the world.
Roberts had “never heard of this type of event before” in researching potential fundraisers for Promote Our Pool’s efforts. Sunday was an experiment — what resonated with donors and participants and what did not — in an uphill climb for awareness and funding. “Now we know what we can do and what we can’t,” she said.
At the end of the pool session, Dan Gray, 67, of Crescent City, tallied the most laps — 182, surpassing his stated goal of swimming five miles on the day. (Endert Pool is 25 meters long; with one lap encompassing 50 meters, Gray swam over 5 1/2 miles in about three hours.) Gray wore a pulbuoy to keep his legs afloat, putting his entire upper body into his stroke. His wife, Lynn Sacks, added 46 laps of her own.
Gray and Sacks, 66, moved to Crescent City from Ashland in 2007. Both are master swimmers who have competed at high levels, and an enjoyable place to swim topped their list of desired attributes in a community.
“Our mental and physical health has come from the pool,” Sacks said.
Over the past two years, the couple built an environmentally conscious home for themselves in Crescent City while doing laps three days a week at Endert Pool. They see the space as a “community asset,” in Gray’s words, that benefits individuals from all walks of life.
“We wanted a place on the coast that had a pool. This is it,” Gray said, gesturing across Endert Pool. “This is as nice a pool as you can find.”
“I’m surprised there weren’t more participants,” he added. “We come (to the pool) a lot. We see it’s well used. People don’t realize how lucky they are.”