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Published: Tuesday, 6/22/2010

Enthusiasts dive in to Toledo pools' opening

BY SARAH MERVOSH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Lindsay Belair,11, takes advantage of the spray at savage Water Park. Four of the city's pools were open Monday. Lindsay Belair,11, takes advantage of the spray at savage Water Park. Four of the city's pools were open Monday.
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For Lisa Kegerize of East Toledo, the opening of four city pools Monday was about more than simply giving her children something to do for the summer.

Going to the pool is a form of therapy for her 8-year-old son, Tyler Belair, who suffers from anxiety.

"It gets him out to socialize with other children. It gives him confidence that he can be in groups," Ms. Kegerize, 42, said. "It kind of opens his world a little bit."

Ms. Kegerize brought her two children to the splash pad at Savage Park in Toledo for its opening day Monday. Pickford Park, Wilson Park, and Willys Park were also open Monday.

Lifeguard Dennis Garrett flexes to perform a cannonball while on break at Willys Park pool. Lifeguard Dennis Garrett flexes to perform a cannonball while on break at Willys Park pool.
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Although some of her family members have their own pools, Ms. Kegerize had been waiting for the public pools to open.

"He's used to family, so this is our way to get him to see other children and interact with other people he doesn't know," she said.

Savage Park, with its water sprinklers, also provided a safe alternative for children who don't know how to swim.

"He can get wet and play and run without being submerged in water," she said.

Lamon Witcher, 9, of Toledo cools off in a misty stream from the water frog at the splash pad at Savage Park in Toledo, which also opened Monday. Lamon Witcher, 9, of Toledo cools off in a misty stream from the water frog at the splash pad at Savage Park in Toledo, which also opened Monday.
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Standard hours of operation will be noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday for Pickford, 3000 Medford Drive; Savage, 645 Vance St., and Wilson, 3252 Otto St., and noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday for Willys Park.

A $1 admission will be charged at Pickford. Admission at Willys is $1 for children under age 12 and $2 for those 12 and older. Other facilities are free. Children under eight years of age must be accompanied by an adult at all aquatic facilities.

The pool at Jamie Farr was to open Monday, but it was temporarily postponed because of malfunctioning equipment. Navarre Park also will open at a later date.

Nicole Willoughby, 33, who brought her nephew to the splash pad Monday, said she came because it was safe and convenient.

"Here the kids can play and you don't have to worry about them drowning," she said. "It's close by. The parents don't have to worry about gas and driving them."

Plus, she didn't have to pay admission.

"Free," Ms. Willoughby said. "That's a key word here. Free."

For the kids, the pools provide a place where they can have fun and socialize with friends.

Nautica Greenlee, 12, said she walked to Willys Park because the weather was hot and humid. She likes to do flips off the diving board and go into the five-foot section of the pool.

"You can go down and touch the bottom," she said.

Her friend Vincent Turner, 7, came to the pool to swim and see his friends.

"There was nothing to do at home and my granny was here," he said. "You can just have fun and swim."

The pool can also be enjoyable for the parents, who can spend time with their children and watch them have fun in the water.

Melanie Evans, 41, said she has been waiting for weeks to bring her daughter to the pool.

"It was so hot," she said, so she improvised with a Slip 'n Slide in her yard.

But when she saw that the pools opened Monday, she made sure to bring her 11-year-old daughter to Willys Park.

"We came straight here," Ms. Evans said. "She just learned how to swim and she loves the water now."

Going to the pool can also be a means of positive reinforcement for parents, Ms. Kegerize said.

"I use it as a motivation for them to behave and get chores done," she said. "If they do that, we'll spend the day at the pool."

Ms. Evans said she wanted to thank the community for opening the pools.

"I don't have enough money to buy a pool, but I have enough to get in here," she said. "I am so glad they opened the pools."

Contact Sarah Mervosh at:

smervosh@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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