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Dive Right In

There is a moment just before you reach the other side of the pool that you feel your lungs about to burst. Then you pop up above the water and inhale another life-giving breath. I did it!

As a youngster, I would challenge myself to race under water across the wide expanse of the outdoor swimming pool at Oglebay Park. By the time summer was over, I mastered the underwater swim with air to spare. There was exhilaration in overcoming the water using every muscle and ounce of strength within you. It was the kind of exercise from which Olympic swimmers are born. Unfortunately, I was not one of them.

Summer swimming hours are waning, as local public pools will be losing their lifeguards to high school and college schedules. However, there is still time to take advantage of this very summery weather that we have experienced in recent weeks.

In Wheeling, city-run neighborhood swimming pools are available every day or on adjusted schedules. At $1 for children and $2 for adults, admission is a steal. And each of the city pools is stocked with refreshments, reasonably priced as well.

Wheeling’s swimming pools — on Wheeling Island, in Warwood, in South Wheeling and East Wheeling — offer a safe and fun way for families to enjoy a refreshing dip. It wasn’t always that way. Before the pools were built, young and old alike took to swimming in the Ohio River as well as the various creeks and lakes in our communities.

It was a push by this newspaper and others that led to the construction of neighborhood pools. Yes, there were and still are pools at Oglebay and Wheeling parks, but not everyone has transportation to those sites. Thus the inner city and neighborhood pools serve a real need.

There is no doubt in the minds of local safety officials that public pools in every community have saved countless lives otherwise lost to unsafe swimming holes.

Hats off to city leaders across the Ohio Valley who have made it a priority to build and properly maintain public pools. In just about every community up and down the river and on both sides of its shores, there are pools awaiting your arrival.

Most communities and the local YMCA also offer swimming lessons for all ages. And the advantage of the indoor pools, such as the one at the Y or Howard Long Wellness Center, allows swimming, lessons and exercise to continue year-round. So don’t tell me you can’t swim. There are plenty of opportunities to learn.

Until the lifeguard blows that final whistle of the season, jump right in and enjoy one of the best rites of summer. See you at the pool.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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