Run (and swim) with a purpose

Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

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.

"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.

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


"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


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


"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


"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."

Reach Robert Husseman at .

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