Op-ed: Waveny ‘best pool in county’
Every summer, for the past four years, my children have enjoyed countless hours of fun and intense workouts as they have participated in the wonderful programs offered by the Recreation Department at the New Canaan town’s pool. “Waveny Gators” is the name of the town’s swim, diving, and water polo teams. The Waveny Gators swim team has moved from the third division to the first over the years and has been able to maintain a position among the top swim teams of the Fairfield County Swim League (FCSL) for the last two seasons. The water polo team is still part of the third division but this year we saw a great improvement in their performance to the point that the team was able to participate in the final tournament with the top teams of the division. As a result of that I have visited countless clubs in the whole Fairfield County, some of them fancier than others. But none of them with a better pool and service than our amazing Waveny pool. It is the best pool among all! The Waveny Pool, and the summer programs offered there, are among the top reasons why we love our town. It is often one of the main things I hear my friends comment they didn’t realize they would miss after buying a house in a neighboring town.
We have a big comfortable paved parking lot with sidewalks. If we had been the hosts of the divisionals meet for the first division of the FCSL, we would have never made families park in a school parking lot, half a mile away from the club in a super hot and humid summer day. Families of the participants would not have had to ride a school bus from the parking lot to the club, or otherwise walk, if they wanted to go see their children swim at the competition which was the case during the divisionals competition at Middlesex Club in Darien this past season.
We have a big pool with diving boards and increasing depths for all ages to enjoy. The size of the Waveny pool was always double and sometimes even triple the size of the pool of any private club. The deep part of the Waveny pool also made it easier for players to play a good water polo game. The water polo games played as visitors were uncomfortable and even funny when players from both teams had to try hard not to stand on the floor in a 3- or 4-foot deep pool to avoid being fouled.
We have a big, fun, zero-depth-entrance kiddies’ pool with ample space for parents to sit and watch their children play while they relax under a comfortable giant umbrella or under the sun. There is always a lifeguard exclusively there to help. The kiddies’ pool opens two hours before the big pool opens to the public. All this is arranged for the convenience of those families with older kids practicing in the swim teams or families whose kids are taking swimming lessons offered at the pool or for any family who prefers the morning sun for their little ones. When we host a swim meet against any other club, their families are always most welcome. They can enjoy the kiddies’ pool in case there are families with little siblings among them, or they can be at the other side of the big pool that is not being used in the races, or they can seat comfortably under any of the five big umbrellas or they can sit and eat at the concession tables. Most of the private clubs have tiny kiddies’ pools with no zero-depth-entrance for little babies to sit in the water and enjoy, no mushroom with falling water to play and have fun under, no ample space for parents to sit. In Roton Point Club they had caution tape not allowing the visitors to use the kiddie’s pool until the swim meet was over and in Middlesex Club in Darien, they had the kiddies’ pool gate locked, and the club staff, instead of offering help, threatened the worried mother of the 3-year-old boy who sneaked in there somehow that they would call the police if she did not take him out of the pool.
We have drinking fountains with water available to anyone thirsty. There was a club that surprisingly didn’t have drinking fountains at all. When the swimmers wanted to refill their water bottles from the orange coolers apparently available, the club’s lifeguards didn’t let them do it because the water in the coolers was only for the parent-volunteers timing the meets.
We have wonderful staff. The Waveny Pool staff is kind, respectful and always looking for ways to improve the facilities. This year I saw one manager putting together a ping-pong table and a foosball table. These two simple things gave children and parents countless hours of fun playing together. They also installed two additional big umbrellas. This year, the people in charge of managing the pool decided to keep it open to the public for a few more days, even after the new school year starts! I was told that this great service was also thanks to the lifeguards who were willing to work for a few more days to make it possible. Most of all, I will never forget the sunny afternoon when we were hosts of the end of the season water polo tournament. The top three teams of the division and their families were having a great time. At the end of the last game, I carefully observed that the manager of our pool, after being prompted by one of the lifeguards, offered ice pops to the team who had defeated our team as a token of friendship after a long and well fought game. Yes, that manager! the one who I had always considered a little bit rude, was the man who quietly offered popsicles to the players of the team from the SAME club who had denied water to our swimmers during a swim meet days before.
Many thanks to those who carefully planned and built the Waveny pool years ago. Thanks also to those who make it such a wonderful part of our community today. I kind of wish we would never have to go as visitors anywhere else. But on the other hand, I am glad that being a visitor showed me and helped me appreciate what we have at home: The best pool in Fairfield County!
Catalina Garcia is a New Canaan resident.