By JEAN HAVENS
During the summertime, folks seek relief from the blazing days, especially the afternoons. In Tahlequah, local children head for Bear Creek Pool, Tahlequah’s community swimming facility.
Rita Garner brought her two great-grandchildren recently to swim and remembers swimming in its cool waters as a child.
“I swam here as a child,” said Garner. “We came here all the time in the summer when I was a kid.”
Garner likes the city pool because it’s convenient for her great-kids – Tayler Moore, 6, and Jayden, 8.
“You can spend all afternoon here, from 1 until 6, if you want,” said Garner.
Jayden and Tayler enjoy swimming at the local pool because the water is clear. Tayler doesn’t like to swim in the river because it’s “fish water,” so cleanliness is important to her.
“They [the city pool staff] let you bring stuff like floaties,” said Jayden when he talked about what he liked about swimming when it’s hot outside.
Right now, Bear Creek pool is the only local option. The NSU Fitness Center pool, favored by lap swimmers and many families year-round, is closed while the whole center is remodeled. Reopening is anticipated in August 2014.
Lifeguard Aaron Crawley thinks his job is fun. He said the community children like to cool off in the hot sun, and that’s why the city pool has traditionally been a popular place during the afternoons.
Sue Dickinson brings her 7-year-old son, Elijah, to the Bear Creek Pool regularly.
“We love coming here,” said Dickinson. “We really like this pool and enjoy it so much.”
Besides being a favorite of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, the pool is a place for clubs and organizations to hang out on hot summer afternoons.
April Quiett, co-facilitator of NSU Hiking and Biking Camp, said the camp students bike to the pool every afternoon after an active morning of hiking. She and her co-facilitator, Dana Boren-Boer, agree swimming is just another way to keep the children active.
“I want the kids to be active,” said Quiett. “And they love it here at the pool.”
“Our kids work so hard from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m., and they’re ready for this place,” Boren-Boer added.
NSU camper Braelyn Hail, 13, enjoys the convenience of the community pool.
“It’s where you can go in town and not have to have a membership,” Braelyn said. “And you have fun!”
NSU student Kayla Herrin is also a lifeguard at Bear Creek Pool. She believes the children like to swim, and the pool gives them a type of freedom to play.
“I think a lot of them like the idea that they can jump and flip into the pool,” Herrin said.
Arden Coggburn, 10, agreed that jumping into the water was fun.
“I also like hand stands and belly flops,” she said.
This is the last summer Bear Creek Pool will be used by community swimmers.
According to Charles Poteet, superintendent of Tahlequah Park and Recreation, bidding on construction for the new city pool and the splash pad are in progress.
“We’re building a new pool, and will try to have it open next season,” said Poteet. “Our target date for the splash pad is next spring.”
There are mixed feelings about closing Bear Creek Pool and opening a new one across town.
“I’m saddened that they’re closing this pool,” Quiett said. “It’s so inexpensive and convenient for the kids who live in the area neighborhoods.”
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