Last weekend, there was a flurry of activity at the Vashon Pool, as volunteers, mostly parents of Vashon Seals Swim Team members, cleaned the dome and took it down in preparation for the summer swimming season.
Even dropping in to watch from the sidelines, it was clear that there was an extraordinary amount of work involved. With this successful inaugural season behind us, it seems the community owes a debt of thanks to the Seals Swim Team for taking this project on and putting in a substantial amount of effort — not just once, but repeatedly to install, remove and store the dome, as the change of seasons calls for.
The group’s recent efforts included pressure washing the bubble and the unenviable task of tying bed sheets together, tossing them over the top, then pulling them back and forth across the dome’s whole length — like flossing teeth, one volunteer said — to remove pollen and other accumulated debris. That was just a warm up for Sunday, when nearly 30 people gathered to pull, tug and finesse the dome off the pool.
While the Vashon Park District’s work was less physical, it, too, is owed the same gratitude. Giving the Seals the green light to proceed with the dome was not an easy decision for the park district commissioners — and when they voted after several months of consideration, the decision was closely split in favor of the Seals moving ahead.
By all accounts this short season was a success, remaining within the budget the Vashon Park District and Seals had agreed upon, providing a regulation-length pool with starting blocks for the team and offering a place for the public to swim in the dark days of winter. Many of the Seals swimmers dramatically improved their times, and as for the public, Aquatics Manager Ann White said that as the sun has come out, she has seen new faces every day.
There have been several efforts and explorations to cover the pool through the years, and its expense has always been out of reach. We believe this solution, covering the pool six months out of the year and allowing swimmers to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine of the Northwest’s fleeting summer days, is the best one imaginable.
Aquatics Manager White says she has big plans for the future of the pool. A former competitive swimmer, she was one of the five members of the Friends of Vashon Pool, which formed in 2014 to try to extend the pool swimming season. At the time, she noted that learning to swim is a potentially life-saving skill and called islanders’ limited access to a public pool “a public health issue.”
It is a different story now, and we are looking forward to relaxing poolside with many islanders this summer and seeing what comes next year-round at the pool.