The Genesee Valley Pool shows that public pools can be made safe during a pandemic and the very last lap until 2022

The Genesee Valley Pool shows that public pools can be made safe during a pandemic and the very last lap until 2022

Friday, 9/11/20 at about 6pm. David Kramer taking THE very last lap of the 2020 season at the Genesee Valley Pool. [Photo: Brittany Frank, Assistant Pool Manager]

During this summer’s interminable heat wave, one unalloyed respite and pleasure was the Adult Swim hours at the Genesee Valley Pool on 131 Elmwood Avenue in Genesee Valley Park. I biked to the pool on the Canal Path. Upon arrival I was sweating, but a quick cold shower and a dip into the shallow end made me forget we were trapped in a heat bubble.

9/11/20. When I arrived at about 5:45, one diehard was taking the second to last lap. [Photo: David Kramer, 9/11/20]

A season pass is a bargain.

The pool is picturesquely set with the woods of the park to the the left, views of the River Campus in front and colorful murals to the right. A swim is even more enhanced when a baseball game is being played on the field in the rear with the the sounds of the fans and players adding to the already energetic atmosphere.

Remarkably, all this pleasure took place during a pandemic.  I spoke with Aquatics and Athletics Manager John Picone who explained how the season was successfully completed with literally no related health issues.

9/08/20. Aquatics and Athletics Manager John Picone. [Photo: David Kramer]

John also arranged a photo op for me to be the very last swimmer of the season when the pool closed at 6pm on Friday September 11th, a final lap that would be the last one until June 2022 when the pool reopens following an extensive remodelling, making a great pool even better.

Talker:  I remember when the pool first re-opened on June 27th. At the time, I was worried that any indications of infection would force another closing. However, the entire season was completed without incident. What precautions and procedures did you use to ensure such a successful safety record?

John:  We spent the month of May and June and worked with our Commissioner Daniel Lyman-Torres on a plan for re-opening that assessed our building and procedures and how best we could safely open our outdoor pool.  As you are aware, Covid-19 has not been found to exist in properly treated pools.  With this in mind, we were able to shut down use of our lobby and remove all seating, strongly suggesting for people to come to the pool and only use the locker room to shower before entering and limiting their time in the locker rooms.  Additionally, we followed all CDC and Gov. Cuomo guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting and required all patrons to have a mask upon entering.  We successfully introduced a Health Assessment Questionnaire and Temperature check before entering and reduced our capacity to 50%. Finally, We also had patrons wait outside to watch their children when swimming and had the swimming slides off limits.

(left) staff members taking down signs on the last day; (right) staff members bring the shallow end steps inside for the last time. [Photos: David Kramer, 9/11/20]

Talker: Next year the pool is scheduled for a very impressive remodeling. You mentioned that while the pool will be closed for the season, the wait will be well worth it. How will the pool look different in 2022?

John:  The Capital Improvement Project will address the pool deck by installing a new deck along with new slides and a fiberglass bulkhead and underdrains and a marcite pool flooring repair and a new pool cover on wheels.  In addition, we will have a new entrance plaza that will include additional greenspace and ADA improvements and electronic signage. This is an exciting update to the County’s only outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool!

For the final lap, Assistant Pool Manager Brittany Frank chronicled my journey from the shallow end to the deep end and then finally to a satisfying departure.

The shallow end. The outdoor temperature was in the 60’s and at first touch the water felt chilly, and initially I was timid. Once fully immersed, I quickly acclimated.

To and into the deep end.

At first, I tried leaving the pool the hard way. Failing, I took the steps, departing a few seconds after the final whistle blew. [Photos: Brittany Frank, 9/11/20]

On Saturday September 12th, the Rochester Fire Department did use the pool for scuba diving practice, but mine was still the last public lap.

RFD officers during a scuba diving practice, 9/12/20. [Photo: David Kramer]

End of the Swim Season at GVP Sports Complex Pool at Dusk, September 12th, 2020 [Provided by John Picone]

Every season, I meet interesting people. In the last week, I befriended Clyde “Aqua Man” Morgan, retired professor in the Department of Dance at The College at Brockport and retired artistic director of Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble.  An avid swimmer, Clyde considers the Complex to be a truly great recreational contribution to Monroe County.

Clyde splits his time between Rochester and Brazil where he swims in the tropical ocean waters. For Clyde, swimming is a form of underwater dance.  Oh, Clyde is 80 years old with every intent to be back for the 2022 season. As Aqua Man likes to say, “May the Water Spirits be with you!”

Clyde’s son, Lee Morgan, a photographer in California, sent me images of Aqua Man doing underwater dancing in the SUNY Brockport Natatorium.


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About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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