By Pete Zamplas- Patton Pool, which has helped produce a gold medalist as well as thousands of summer smiles, is getting excellent praise from families for its swim training and enhanced safety measures.
This is the second summer that the Hendersonville Family YMCA runs the outdoor pool and entire Patton Park, for the City of Hendersonville that owns the park. Patton Park is along East Clairmont Drive, off U.S. 25 North.
The park also features an unattended skateboard facility (open 7 a.m.-11 p.m.) with eight-foot deep bowl; basketball, tennis and racquetball courts; playground and a nature trail. The Y added the Kellogg Center off Broyles Road near U.S. 64 West, and held a picnic there June 22.
The YMCA has a five lap, 25-meter indoor pool in its main local facility at 810 W. Sixth Ave./64 West, off Oak Street. Patton Pool is 50 meters long with eight lanes, making it olympic-sized. Its depth is 3-5 feet, 12 feet in the diving section that jets out.
Olympic squads of various nations trained in Southeastern U.S. towns in summer 1996, for the Summer Games in Atlanta. Hendersonville hosted New Zealand’s vaunted swim team. Star Danyon Loader won gold in the 200 and 400-meter freestyle, in Atlanta.
Lauren Ellis Keplinger was age ten. She vividly recalls the muscular New Zealanders were “very friendly and helpful” in a stroke clinic, for her and other HCATs (Henderson County Aquatics Team) youth. HCAT, a county summer program, is gone.
But the Piranhas, the Y’s year-round competitive swim team, swims on. The club offers stroke instruction and coaching, to “improve swimming skills and achieve success at his or her level of ability — from novice to international competitor.” The Piranhas combine Henderson and Buncombe county youth, under YMCA of Western North Carolina.
People of various ages use Patton Pool. Busiest times are warm mid-days, while it often slows drastically 4-6 p.m., local YMCA Aquatics Director Halle Schade Pouncey observed.
Swim lessons are 9-11 a.m., ahead of public swimming. Hydro Burn classes are three mornings per week. Sunset Paddle Board Yoga is on Friday evenings. Lap swimming is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (M-Sat.). Public swimming is 11 a.m.-8 p.m. or 1-6 p.m. on Sundays, through the end of summer.
Parents compliment how the pool is run safely with many observant lifeguards, rules such as against running and careless clowning, and added oversight from parents. Children behave well, rather than bully or endanger others. “They’re quick to enforce rules here,” said Katherine Macdonald, who brings her six home-schooled children from Laurel Park to Patton Pool on many summer weekdays. “I’m very pleased with the courtesy of other families.”
Pouncey, an Atlanta native, said “we’re all about safety” at Patton Pool and the Y indoor pool. She said the YMCA helps develop “stronger and safer swimmers.”
There are usually three to four lifeguards at a time at Patton, and eight with a rental group around, Pouncey noted. The pool is sectioned off, enabling adults to avoid splashing children and kids to not get run over by larger swimmers. Diving is mostly isolated in its own area.
Half of the most shallow (3 feet) end is for youths and the section next to it for rental groups. Behind them, two deeper sections for more proficient swimmers including youths who pass a swim test. For lap swimming or Piranhas practices, typically at most half of Patton’s eight lanes are roped off so others can also use the pool, Pouncey noted.
Children are required to take swim lessons and pass a swim test, to get a green wrist band authorizing them to swim in deeper water and without a life vest.
The YMCA tradition in water safety starts with its group swim lessons since 1909, and now at more than 2,000 pools across the nation. Lessons are grouped by age, level and focus. Swim Starters is for water discovery and exploration.
Next, Swim Basics is to acclimate to water and develop basic motions and stamina — swimming 15 yards in a spurt. “Swim, float, swim” and “Jump, push, turn, grab” are code words in this phase.
Swim Strokes develops technique, and a path to competitive swimming. Katherine Macdonald said with her children she will “review strokes, in the lap lanes” to reinforce their Y training.
For “lifesaving water skills, Patton Pool is the place to be,” local Y Executive Director Josh Simpson stated.
Safety Around Water is drowning prevention. This free Y eight-day program year-round gets children to relax in water, and concentrate on strokes and awareness of others. The Boys & Girls Club learned Safety Around Water last Thursday, such as settling into a small canoe raft.
As Pouncey notes, swimmers develop good instincts to avoid or escape danger. Precautionary tips include to avoid swimming into a cluster of people or near boats, to wear life jackets such as when on crafts, and of course not pushing/pulling others into water. It is crucial to know when to surface for air after going underwater or falling in, to allow for fatigue and not cut stamina and breath too closely. Youths are urged to yell for help, when needed.
Safety Around Water train helps children get out of potential drowning situations. A key survival instinct is to beeline for the nearest pool edge or water shallow enough to stand up in, when short on breath. Also, if a swimmer gulps in water while breathing it helps to stay calm and try another breath rather than panic — to prolong oxygen retention.
Recent special events at Patton Pool include a family movie night last Thursday, at $5 per family.
Pool day passes for Patton are $5 per adult, $4 per child. Summer passes are $150 for a family, $75 per adult, $60 for each child or per adult Hendersonville resident or Y member. Fees are twice as much for non-Y members living beyond official city limits. A punch pass for 15 visits is $60, or $38 for a Y member or Hendersonville resident.
Phone numbers are 697-9622 for the Hendersonville Family YMCA, 687-8116 to Halle Pouncey regarding Patton Park and pool, 697-3081 directly to Patton Pool, and 209-9616 to schedule an assessment for prospective Piranhas. Check https://www.ymcawnc.org/centers/hendersonville-family-ymca, for more about aquatics and other Y-sponsored programs.