Turlock Recreation Commissioner Brent Bohlender Op-Ed: Council Should Consider Providing Rec Swim at School Pools

Thank you Turlock City Council for allowing two more weeks to hopefully get the community to rally around keeping at least one more pool open for recreation swimming.

That said, I still have some concerns with regards to what the function of recreation programs are to our community with regards to swimming.  Having coached in the area for 40 years, and continuing to do so at this time, I have never seen the need for activities for kids so stretched.  Many communities are going down the road of having participants recoup any costs of running the programs.  In truth there are some activities that this is just not possible, and aquatics is one of those.
The cost for a child that really needs to learn how to swim is going up to those who can least afford it.  Yes, there are those in the community that can afford the private lessons, who can afford to have their child participate in organized activities at the pool such as swim teams and water polo, but more and more it is literally becoming a choice between fundamentals of life and having their child becoming involved in activities that can literally save their lives.
The concept that kids can go out and find fun activities to do at our public facilities works when we have all the open space opportunities for them such as basketball courts, soccer fields, baseball diamonds, etc., etc., for them.  However when it comes to pools we could be denying those kids the simple pleasure of cooling off during the hot days of summer, in spite of the fact that the pools are there, filled with water, and the lock is on the gate.  We must accept the fact that there are some things in the valley with the heat that children should be allowed to "cool off."  Again the only resort for them if they are not fortunate enough to know someone with a pool, or have the money to afford the selected organized activities at the pools, is to go to the canals in our area (of which there are many).
Keeping Columbia open and accepting the cost would be a step in the right direction, but to ignore that other parts of town need the same consideration is a mistake.  If you look at the number of kids that are serviced in the summer through rec swim at both Columbia, Turlock and Pitman it is in the hundreds during a week. Parents who work in the daytime, how is it possible for them to drive their kids across town? How does a child who lives on the south east part of town get on his bike and ride past a pool just sitting there, not used, and go to Columbia?   Or a child on the north end of town go down Golden State Blvd on his bike as he passes Pitman sitting there not used.
I would hope that the Council would seriously reconsider this issue with the acceptance that the children of Turlock deserve to experience the type of summer we all did as children, spending time at the local pool with friends in a safe atmosphere.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Thank you,
Brent Bohlender

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