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The Final Swim

It is a sad day for me. The Kits Pool is closing. I mark my entire summer around when the beachside outdoor pool opens on the May long weekend and when it closes, the second week in September. And rain or shine, I am there on the first and last days. Today it is pouring, but I will not miss my final swim of the season this afternoon.

Vancouver has several outdoor public pools, but it is the Kitsilano pool that is the longest at 137 metres (150 yards) or three times the length of an Olympic-sized pool. But it’s not the size as much as the scenery that takes your breath away. It’s situated at the ocean’s shoreline, so as you’re swimming along through the turquoise water, you can see the ocean, the mountains, seagulls and eagles overhead, the cityscape, the sunset.

The pool caters to all. There’s a shallow area that parents can actually wade into with young children. There are swim lanes, for the lappers like me; the lanes run the full length of the pool and are kept free of “Sunday drivers” and cherry bombing teens by the vigilant lifeguards. There’s an area in the deep end for them. And presiding over us all is the ever swimming swimmer, an inspired community public art sculpture.

Year after year, people return and spread their towels in their favourite areas. Families picnic on the grass. Giggling teens cluster over by the fence. For the last few years, I have been tucking in with the triathletes – hoping some of their buffness would rub off on me.

Today, there would certainly be a hue and cry if anyone said they wanted to put a big cement pool on the beach. It probably would violate a number of sustainability principles. Although it does use ocean water, and I don’t know if it’s because of the salt water, but it seems there is less chlorine in that pool. And that helps me breathe easier. But sustainable or not, today, on this last day of summer, I just want to thank the person who ever dreamt of putting a pool on Kits Beach.

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