Saint John the Baptist’s Day (24 June, a public holiday) marks the beginning of the outdoor pool season in the small village off the coast where this blogger lives. For many families with smaller children the summer days will be organized around its opening hours. The following thoughts appeared in 2015 after weeks of daily visits with plenty of time for observation…
The public pool opening hours are noon to 8 p.m. from 24 June to 11 September (Catalan national holiday). During approximately four weeks there are held swimming lessons in the mornings for kids aged 3 to 12; the oldest start first at around 9 a.m., the youngest get their lessons shortly before noon. For the smallest it takes one to two summers to learn to swim safely, the older ones train different styles (crawl, breaststroke, butterfly, etc.).
When the summer heat becomes unbearable, the pool is a welcome place of refuge – and fills up quickly. Normally in the late afternoon, apart from the mosquitos, there appears a refreshing breeze from the sea behind the mountains that provides for cooler evenings and sound sleep.
There is a wide variety of pool guests:
Parents and kids considerate of the others, some of them less so. On weekdays, a lot of grandmothers and their grandchildren whose parents work; hardly ever a grandfather alone with his grandchild. The growth of the kids from one summer to the next is stunning. The teenagers often come without adult company, and they play cards when not in the water. Another important group are “hipster” youth in their early twenties: fully bearded, observing from behind the lenses of a variety of Wayfarer sunglasses, who keep it cool in the shade. The gender distribution in 2015 was uneven: too many males for the one single female, the situation improved slightly in August.
There are also strange guys, some of them quiet and observing, others not. People marked by life, a lot of them overweight – the Mediterranean diet is not followed by them though they live in the Mediterranean. An elevated number of smokers who like afternoon beer. Such as the construction worker who lights up while watching his teenage sons, one of them obese, before riding his mid-size motorcycle home.
Some of the life guards are very attentive, others less so, or more to their smartphones… apart from keeping an eye on those in the water, they run a kiosk where they sell coffee, beer, softdrinks, icecream and candy by piece – which, if you have small kids, means a daily challenge: searching for ways to educate your offspring in capitalism and the responsible use of a limited resource called pocket money.
This observer normally likes the first week at the pool, and then could think of other places to be. The higher the temperatures, the fuller the pool, and the lower the desire to go there; the main problems being the noise and the many negative models the kids are being exposed to every day… There is still hope that things improve. Have a nice summer!