Monday, April 04, 2011

The Simpkins Family Swim Center

Anytime ‘family’ graces the name of a pool, PP knows that it bodes odiousity. And the Simpkin's Family Swim Center in the Live Oak neighborhood of Santa Cruz was no exception.

It wasn’t the pool. No, the pool was stupendous. 50 meters long. Divided into 18 wide wide lanes. When PP shared the lane, she could hardly tell there was someone else on the other side. Except for String Bikini Big Yellow Cap Girl. Swimming with her head held out of the water high. No goggles. Like she was playing water polo. But she wasn’t. She was racing some middle-aged dude in the lane next to PP and kicking his ass. Easily. Even with stopping at the wall at the end of every lap to re-tie her string round her neck.

But she only lasted 5 minutes. Had proved her point. 18 year old girls can out swim middle-aged dudes with one bikini string untied behind their necks.

Before String Bikini Girl was Hawaiian Swim Trunks Breast Stroke Guy. Quiet and slow and peaceful. Definitely PP had little inkling that she was sharing a lane with him.
Finally another beefy mid-aged guy (Was this the pool for this demographic?)barreled in, beating the water for the last 20 minutes of her swim. Yet again, the wide lane went far to mask the water beating action.

But before the swim, the real heniousity came in: The locker-room.

Initially, when PP had first entered the women’s locker room and come upon the tiny locker area—she’s terrible at space measurements, but maybe it was 10 X 12? Is that super small?--she was dumbfounded. She beheld only two narrow benches that could hold just one person’s stuff. (Well, PP’s stuff—maybe someone else’s stuff might be able to fit two people's stuff.) And two rows of lockers wedged into the corner and....

Okay, see? She can’t even describe it. It was so small. She’d thought that there must be another few rooms, identical to this one, if she just ventured around the corner, but no. Around the corner were the sinks and toilets. Then the showers. Then the door out to the pools.

Was it for real?

PP stood for a moment, awestruck, thinking, “Can I do this? Where am I gonna get changed? Should I just turn around and leave?” She glanced round at the full-to- capacity room of 3 moms, 4 kids, and a grandma sitting in the corner slowly rubbing lotion into her rolls of tummy.

“Here, let me move this for you,” One Woman offered, as she pushed aside her daughter’s Little Mermaid back pack.
“Thanks,” PP tried to smile, but didn’t manage a genuine one. Of this she was certain.

But she was here now. And the pool beckoned. Its 18 lanes enticing her. (Of course, 10 of the lanes were full of Special Olympics’ kids and parents. Here’s the family part. And what is it about the Special Olympics swim teams anyway? They follow PP and DHBF everywhere. At Hilltopia. Now at the Simpkins Family Swim Center.)

Yet, again, in the pool, all was bliss. Swimming under dusky sky, wispy with high pink clouds, the singing birds flitting about in the big tall trees surrounding the pool.... It was nice to be outside!

But as the time to close inched nearer, PP began to feel a bit panicky. She better get out of the pool and head to the showers before the onslaught of Special Olympics Families finished their workout.

And so she stopped. Giving herself 10 minutes before closing time. Heading into the locker-room to nab a shower.

Which she did, but Claustrophobia set in big time once she finished her shower. Crammed into the tiny locker-room, she tried to control herself.

Yet, she couldn't quite: “They coulda made the locker room a bit bigger,” PP grumbled as she tried to squeeze past a mom yanking on a pink and green striped sock of her Special Olympics Daughter. The daughter stared at PP, her bright red hair sticking out in all wet directions.
Another woman, PP didn’t even see who since she couldn’t turn around the space was so small, grunted a reply to her comment. Something like, “Uh, yeah….” Her voice trailing off. Like “Duh!” –we all know the locker room is too infinitesimally small for the size of any public family pool, let alone one of the Simpkin’s pool’s dimensions.

PP resisted a response, got herself dressed, and then ran out of the locker room, plopping herself on the carpet outside next to DHBF’s chair, where he was calmly reading Hunter S. Thompson. Finally, she could breathe now that she was out of the locker room.

“I hadda get outta there before I screamed.”
Nodding, DHBF finished his paragraph, “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
“I’ve never seen such small locker rooms. I thought Mills was bad…”
“Nope. Mills is a Palace compared to this place,” he joked.

Laughing now as she dried off her cap, PP was suddenly confronted with a small person’s staring gaze. A boy round 4? 3? 5? Hell she can’t tell. “Did you have fun swimming?” she asked, trying to be kid friendly even though it went against the grain.
He nodded.
“How far did you swim?”
He held up both hands and spread his fingers.
“10 miles!” PP exclaimed. “Wow! You’re a fish!”
Singing Dad glanced over at them, “She's a Rock Bottomed Woman....", a dopey grin finishing out the refrain.

“Let’s get outta here,” PP nodded to DHBF, who grinned and started packing up.
“She’s a ….” SD wailed as 10 mile boy danced.

And even though the Simpkin's Family Swim Center sucks at locker room proportions, PP had to admit that the pool had been worth it.

Though she didn’t plan on going back there anytime soon!

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