Hinsdale pool a pretty cool place to be

From summer fun to fitness to employment, village-owned pool is an asset to the town

Series: Summer days | Story 4

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, it was hard to believe rainy, gloomy weather had caused the Hinsdale Community Pool to close earlier that day.

The sun was shining from a brilliant blue sky adorned with fluffy white clouds. The crowd might have been smaller than usual, but there are still plenty of patrons - adults swimming laps, playing with their kids in the water or reading a book in the shade of one of the large umbrellas. Two-year-old Millie Jane Muskievicz was participating enthusiastically in her private swim lesson with instructor Finn Hamman, a rising junior at Hinsdale Central.

"She enjoys water. She loves it," her dad, Michael, said. "All we hear about is the pool."

Private lessons are one of many activities that go on at the pool every week. It offers group parent-tot swimming lessons, group swimming lessons and a junior lifeguard program. It also is home to the Stingrays Town Team, which hosts meets at the pool and practices there four days a week in June and most of July. In addition, the pool rents space to other organizations and, as of this summer, for private birthday parties.

The pool also has long been a great place to get a summer job for high school and college students, like recent Central graduate Spencer Anderson. This is his third year working at the pool and his first as manager. He was responsible for the 10 guards on staff Tuesday afternoon.

"It's a good group of people to work with," Anderson said. "Everyone here - the guards, the staff, is very friendly. When you come back year after year you build relationships with people. That's one of the things that has been most endearing to me."

The pool has about 88 people on staff, from cashiers and guards to managers and coordinators, said Mike Hayes, parks and recreation superintendent for the village. He and Todd Linder, recreation supervisor, oversee all operations at the pool.

Like many other pool employees, Anderson had an older sibling who worked as a lifeguard before he did. Since the parks and recreation department provides Star Guard training for employees, he didn't have to be certified when he applied.

"We have staff that are trained as instructors and those staff train the guards," Hayes said, adding that four to six courses are offered between Jan. 1 and the first week of June, when kids return home from college.

The guards rotate among the eight stations every 15 minutes, carrying a red rescue tube and wearing a whistle and a fanny pack. The pack contains a Seal Rite mask for use if an individual needs help breathing and a pair of plastic gloves.

An occasional blast from a guard's whistle indicates some type of infraction, and the Metra trains that whiz by drown out the sounds of splashing and the tunes playing over the PA system.

The Callahan family was enjoying time at the diving well, where Grace, 7, had been jumping off the low and high boards. She's taking private diving lessons at the pool, working on her front and back dives.

"Mostly front," she clarified.

Her 4-year-old sister, Isla, made her first jump off the diving board that afternoon. She is sticking to the low board for now.

"The high dive is really high," Isla said.

In addition to jumping off both boards and going down the slide, Grace enjoys spending time in the main pool.

"I like doing tricks in the water, like flips and doing handstands," she said.

Mom Marsula was watching the girls from the side of the pool, but she's been known to jump off the high board and go down the slide.

"It's surprising how fast it shoots you out," she said.

Trips to the pool are a fun way for the girls to spend time this summer before they head to second grade and kindergarten at Madison School in August, their mom said.

"They enjoy it and we live very close by, so I like that we can walk over, even if it's for an hour or two," Callahan said.

Having a pool residents can walk to is a huge asset for the village, in Hayes' opinion.

"I think just being around all the homes and within walking distance - you don't get that in many towns," he said. "You see kids riding their bikes and moms walking with the strollers."

With June offering up a number of hot, sunny days, the pool has attracted good crowds - especially on Saturdays and Sundays.

"Weekends have been extremely well-received and busy," Hayes said.

He pointed to a number of special events taking place at the pool this summer, including today's Red, White and Blue day ($5 admission for those who with a suit or towel with all three colors), Flick 'n' Float July 19 and the Back to School Bash Aug. 10. Hayes said the village works hard to support affiliate organizations, like the Stingrays Town Team, support partnerships with Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South high schools and meet whatever needs arise.

"We'll figure out a way to make it happen," he said.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean