The pool is gone. There’s no changing that. My last flame of hope was snuffed out as the bulldozers and heavy rollers methodically filled the would-be pool with dirt, leveled it and covered it with concrete. As the cross country team and I jogged by the broken opening in the wall, each of us took a turn glancing in and coming to terms with our loss. As we congregated to stretch, our coach, Doug, gave announcements and directions for practice. It was to be an easy practice—no impact on the legs whatsoever—to give us time to heal from the previous two rigorous practices. Typically, this meant laps or treading water in the pool. However, as Doug commented sarcastically, that wouldn’t be an option. We stretched and took off for dinner. No workout at all was really the only replacement for a no-impact pool workout.
As I left the Rec-Fit, I glanced left toward the vacant, gray room that once housed the memories of my first year at Goshen. I lamented losing part of my college experience that had influenced my freshman year so heavily. Memories flooded my brain. I thought of watermelon polo: how the large watermelon was thrown into the pool covered in Vaseline as my team pushed closer to it, covering our bodies in slime, edging it ever closer to the opposing wall. I thought of sitting in the hot tub and meeting a young man from the Goshen community who went to a Russian-style Baptist church. I remembered how interesting it was to talk about the differences (or lack thereof) between Baptist and Anabaptist histories and beliefs. Even simple memories of going to the pool to blow off steam or relax with friends flowed through my nostalgic mind.
Most of all, though, I remembered the Swim Club I had started with Liz Bryant last year. It gave me a leadership role and something to develop and strive to improve. My heart recalled the feeling of pride and joy I received when I managed to teach new swimmers how to swim above water and, soon after, in competition style. I saw swimmers improve after each meeting, determination in their eyes when they tried for one more lap than they could finish last time. Goosebumps spread across my body as I thought how now one of those members can swim laps recreationally and in multiple different strokes.
How resilient people are! How beautiful it was to use the pool as a venue for community. These are the thoughts that went through my head as I took my last few steps out of the building. It was hot outside. I contemplated how amazing it would feel to fall into the cool, refreshing water. To float aimlessly through the clear substance—weightless and worriless. In Java, on the way to my dorm, a newspaper article caught my eye. Community members who loved using the pool had strung their suits up on the statue in front of the RFC in protest to its closing. Good for you, I thought. The pool was something that gave our athletes a safe alternative exercise, gave students a task to focus on and a goal to strive for, connected the college with the community, and forged many great memories for us all.
-Kolton Nay is a sophomore TESOL major.