Swim clubs swing into action

Laughter and the smell of chlorine filled the air at Glen Hills Swim Club in Glenville on Sunday as
Children at the Glen Hills Swim Club in Alplaus on Sunday, May 27, 2012.
Children at the Glen Hills Swim Club in Alplaus on Sunday, May 27, 2012.

Laughter and the smell of chlorine filled the air at Glen Hills Swim Club in Glenville on Sunday as the unofficial start of the summer season arrived.

Parents sweated on towels in the sun, children splashed each other in the pool, and Jeri Carlstedt, club director, looked on with a smile.

“The community is being reborn here,” she said. “Families find each other. It’s important for kids to have a safe, fun place to make summer friends.”

Many municipal pools will not open until later in June, but Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer for most private pools.

Such a happy scene might be expected at any local pool’s season opener, but for the swim club, the weekend was exceptional. Carlstedt said 114 swimmers took the plunge Saturday, more than she has seen on opening day in her six years as director.

Several factors explain the better-than-average turn out, including the obvious one: sun.

“I’ve been here on Memorial Days when it snowed,” said Lani Wright, club board member. “We were sitting here with cocoa.”

Wright has been a club member with her husband since their children were small 25 years ago, so she’s seen all kinds of weather from the towel-covered pool recliner.

“I think I like this global warming actually,” she said.

The nice weather is heating the pool by five degrees a day, but it’s still a bit nippy, or “refreshing,” for those swimmers like Jeff Russo, of Scotia, who choose to look on the bright side.

“The kids were super-excited to get back in the pool,” said Russo’s fiance Dana Demarco, referring to their three kids wrapped in towels.

Carlstedt’s 10-year-old daughter, Rose, practiced the dives she learned last year, cutting gracefully into the 13-foot deep end.

“I jumped in yesterday,” she said. “Once you get used to the water, it’s easier to dive. I think it’s nice.”

It’s the rare child who doesn’t think about swimming when the thermometer hits 80 degrees, which has resulted in land office business for Leslie’s Swimming Pool Supplies in Colonie.

“Last weekend was mayhem,” said Leslie’s employee Candido Figueroa, “and this weekend it’s Memorial Day, so people want to swim.”

Leslie’s sells pool parts, from filters to pumps to chlorine. Their clientele is mostly private pool owners.

Not all communal pools are busy.

“Look at the weather, look at all these cars. Where is everyone?” said Cindy McLane, one of only three people using the Hampshire House Apartments’ pool in Schenectady on its second day of the season. “The water is great. It was the perfect time to open.”

Wright suggested many pools have closed because the culture is shifting away from community activities. Even Woodlin Club, also of Glenville, will remain closed this summer. Meanwhile, Glen Hills is growing.

Carlstedt admitted that there are a few families that came from Woodlin, but she thinks the growth comes from more than that. Glen Hills holds monthly themed parties such as Luau Night, boasting a full pig roast, or the upcoming Hoedown. They even work with the local YMCA to give discounts to members and bring in day camps, all of which Carlstedt hopes will bring people together.

“It’s not every day you see 30 kids who don’t know each other all playing a single game,” she said. “They have to feel comfortable enough to ask, ‘can I play?’ and they do here.”

To become a member of Glen Hills, call 384-1033.

Categories: Schenectady County

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