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by Kathy Riley

“All right, everyone, let’s jog to the end of the pool and back,” commands Ann Naulty, Lumberton resident and volunteer pool exercise leader.  The group breaks into an awkward trot, some faster, some slower.  “When you get to the wall, jog backwards!”  Ann directs, and we reverse the process.  There is much laughter and an occasional collision as we get ready for an hour of low impact, high energy fitness with our friends.  The sun tops the trees, and suddenly, we are all much warmer and making jokes about our ‘spa.’  Enjoying an outdoor pool isn’t all that unusual until you look at a calendar and see the date — September 23.

When my husband and I moved to Lumberton in February of 2016,  we knew all about the pool on our campus, or so we thought.  I’d even been a guest in it on a hot July day several years earlier.  We thought we might use it, but that was far in the future, after the inevitable settling in.  Little did I know that it would become a part of rehab for a hip replacement I had not even scheduled yet and an important place to make new friends and learn about my community.

Once the pool opened for the summer, Rick Trandahl, one of our fitness instructors, led pool classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Ann volunteered her time to lead a Saturday class. A really hot day would bring out close to twenty people, some of whom stayed on for water volleyball.  I wished there were more classes each week and felt some disappointment every time I missed one because of another commitment.

Then came July and the hip replacement, and I was sidelined from pool activity of all sorts for six weeks. “ Next summer,” I told myself, assuming that the pool would close on Labor Day.  What a pleasant surprise to learn that it would remain open until the first weekend in October! At Ann’s LaborDay class I finally did get my hip into the water and joined Rick for his final classes later that week.

When Rick resumed his full indoor fitness class schedule, Ann volunteered to take over classes, not only on the regularly scheduled days but also on other mornings if she were available.  And what fun we had!  An especially hot September made the pool even more inviting, and I discovered the locker room in the Fitness Center, complete with shower, hairdryer, heater, and shampoo.  Now it really was a spa experience for one whose former pool had cold showers and windows open to the four winds.

One interesting phenomenon our fall group observed but could not account for was the dwindling number of men attending the post- Labor Day classes.  What they were up to we did not know, but we dubbed ourselves the few, the proud, the polar bears and bobbed about the pool on our noodles in the first days of fall. I will be counting down the days until the pool opens in 2017.

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