Sylvia Gurtowski: 2019 Summer Swim Hours Draw to an End

Published 10:52 am Friday, August 16, 2019

By Sylvia Gurtowski

Where has the summer gone?  This was, arguably, one of the fastest moving summers in recent memory!  We certainly hope everyone made the most of it while it lasted. Along with the beginning of school comes the ending of another fun-filled and educational swimming season at City Pool.  

2019 was a summer of many challenges and changes; the list of which is way too long to go into here, but suffice it to say, City Pool had the potential for complete disaster and failure. However, thanks to the incredibly loyal staff, a very understanding community, and a lot of help from above, we were able to make City Pool just as prosperous and fun as in years past…just on a scaled-back basis.

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We had to implement new hours and a few new restrictions; most of which should actually have been put in place a long time ago.  But change is difficult, and for 22 years City Pool was able to maintain the same schedule our community had since enjoyed. After several years of noticing proverbial cracks in our once solid foundation, it came time to make changes. Some of which, admittedly, were pretty drastic i.e. closing to the general public on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Although we had fewer classes this year, our American Red Cross Learn to Swim Program was tremendously successful. We enrolled over 200 students during the course of the summer. Our lessons were taught in a safe environment with plenty of instructors.  In any class, the ratio of student to instructor was never more than 5 -1. With the pool being less crowded, we feel the students were better able to concentrate which helped them learn more effectively.

We must thank our volunteer instructors who believe in our program and come out year after year to teach classes for us:

Joan Clarke has been teaching adult swim lessons for several years.  Her patient and caring approach makes her a favorite of many of our beginning adult swimmers.  She has the ability to teach even the most fearful adults to accept their fear, learn from it, and work with it in a positive and productive way. 

Susan Athow is a long-time volunteer lifeguard and water safety instructor.  Along with her husband, Bob, she has played a vital role in the training of almost every lifeguard that has ever worked at City Pool.  Our guard staff is second to none chiefly because of Susan Athow’s commitment to excellence and acceptance of nothing less as it pertains to pool safety.  We consider her and her husband City Pool family.

My personal gratitude is extended to one of the most phenomenal staffs with whom I have ever had the pleasure to work.  Some of these guys had one, two, and three other jobs, but somehow managed to dedicate valuable time to the needs at City Pool.  Other staff worked double shifts and, at times, seven days a week to keep our programs running smoothly. Maybe the most amazing thing about this for me is that with all the hours and the oppressive heat they had to endure, whether they worked in the Cage or on the stand,  I truly never once heard any of them complain that they were working too much. To this day, that fact still astounds me!

I simply must mention by name two people without whom my job would have been impossible: Head Lifeguards Katelyn Brock and Rob Sanders. Their duties were many and I relied heavily on their knowledge and abilities. You kept the facility staffed and running smoothly.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

One thing is certain, we learned that, if allowed, change can be a very positive thing: Without it, we would never grow, learn, or realize our full potential. This has been a year of many changes at our pool. The staff joins me in thanking the public for patience as we navigated through these uncharted waters. Over the next few months we will continue to tweak our “new normal” so it is as accommodating as possible for everyone who visits our beautiful pool.


Sylvia Gurtowski

Vicksburg City Pool

Aquatics Director/Learn to Swim Coordinator