GOSHEN — Despite protest from some in the community, Goshen College will shut down the pool in the college’s Recreation-Fitness Center at the end of the week.
Efforts included a petition as well as proposals to try to make the pool profitable for the college. In the end, though, they were not enough to cancel, or even delay, the closing.
But when the pool closes for the final time Friday, there will be many people who will need to find another place to go.
According to Goshen resident Rachel Paff, who fought to keep the pool open by starting a petition that gained more than 700 signatures, there may be some options available to those wishing to continue swimming and exercising.
She noted both the Elkhart YMCA and Shepard’s Swim School could potentially be places people choose to do water aerobics. Paff also brought attention to the possibility of a pool at the proposed Goshen Community Center in the future.
Those may very well be viable options for some of the pool’s patrons. Paff is concerned, however, about the large amount of the swimmers with mobility issues.
For those that have trouble getting around, traveling even 15 minutes to get to a pool may be difficult, she said.
A group had also looked into swimming sessions at Shepard’s, located in the Parkway Plaza along C.R. 17, and even thought about getting a bus together to transport swimmers. Cost was a significant issue, however, and Paff does not believe that will be a route the group chooses to go.
And with few concrete plans made for the Goshen Community Center so far, a pool there would still be several years down the road.
Lap swimmers will also have options, said Joe Dervin, another Goshen resident who has also been a lifeguard at the college’s pool for over a decade.
Besides the Elkhart YMCA, he added Concord High School’s and Goshen Middle School’s pools as potentials places for swimmers.
Even the high school pools, however, come with disadvantages. One concern Dervin raised was water temperature, which he says is far below what Goshen College’s pool water was kept at.
Dervin also said the open hours of high school pools would not meet the convenience of the college pool. “The trouble is, if you’re a serious swimmer, an hour’s not enough time,” he said.
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding swimming options going forward, Dervin remains optimistic. “There will be options,” he said. “We’re just going to have to start feeling it out.”
Wherever people choose to swim now, Paff believes both the community and the school have lost a valuable asset.
The pool met health, and often social, needs of those who used it, she said. Not only did the people who were in aerobics groups have a chance to make friends within the group, but the pool gave college students a chance to connect with members of the larger Goshen community.
“I think it was a very under-utilized resource,” Paff concluded.
Dervin agreed. “It’s just a shame to have that thing gone.”