Reader is passionate about saving YMCA pool

Come on, Marietta!

I grew up in Parkersburg (PHS Class of ’65 although we moved in ’64- those Big Red reunions are the ones I go to).

I moved back to the Mid-Ohio Valley last year and bought a house in Marietta because one of the highlights of my teen years was the Williamstown-Marietta Swim Team and I wanted to be close to the YMCA pool.

I can still remember our first days at the new YMCA- the airy pool space, the big windows overlooking a field back then, and the glorious size of the pool.

We set records in that pool that stood for years. Swimming changed our lives, improving our physical selves and expanding our personal and geographical horizons. We competed in Elkins, Wheeling, Huntington, Charleston, Zanesville, Columbus and more. Lifetime friendships were formed.

And now, apparently after years of failed maintenance, it’s being abandoned. How could Marietta allow this to happen? What about the kids working their hearts out there?

I hear talk about bringing Marietta swimmers to Athens. Is Parkersburg too crowded? Is it a state line thing? We were just kids in cars; it was a different time. Is there hope for a takeover by the college? By the city? This is about livability in the river city, surrounded by water with limited options for swimming indoors.

The mid-1960s swim team started at the City Park Pool in Parkersburg. When winter came, we moved to the downtown Parkersburg YMCA. I don’t remember the size of the pool- 40 feet? I recall it took seven laps to go 100 yards or so. Then one day there was too much chlorine and we fled, eyes streaming, coughing and gasping. We tried the Betsey Mills Club, which was too small for our rowdy crowd and the YMCA overflow, I hear.

When summer returned, we went to the Williamstown High School pool with our wonderful volunteer coach, Jerry Morris. I don’t know what inspired him – his kids were too young then – but he inspired us! It was a magical time for all of us. Karla Morris Spencer is still racing in Florida, as slim, fit and beautiful as ever, and she’s relied on the YMCA pool during her West Virginia summers.

When I moved back here, I immediately signed up for a YMCA membership. Then I began a series of surgeries – four in the past year – so I never made it to the pool. I heard about the weeks-long closure for cleaning and then finally, this fall, about the closure.

How can this beautiful, venerable, comfortable little river city allow such a resource to die? Do it for the kids – now and future! That pool, or a properly maintaned replacement, can save lives, hearts and souls!

Peggy Andersen

Marietta