We have a saying in the Crossett Parks and Recreation Department: “Your fun is our business.”
And most of what we do is just fun. But as we near the opening of the Crossett City Pool our jaw sets, our brow furrows and our heart tightens up a bit. We get serious because water safety is serious business.
Nobody knows that right now more than the family and friends of the young man who just drowned in Tunica, Miss., two weeks ago. We aren’t urging you to seek out and watch the video, but it is circulating on social media. And what it shows is how subtly dangerous water can be.
The video starts shaky while the person holding the phone camera zeros in on this young man taking his shoes off and pacing along the bank of one of those manmade lakes built to enhance an apartment complex. Simply put, he seems unsure, but the voices in the background are just the opposite. They are the voices of peer pressure. Other young men, possibly bored from COVID mandated school and social shutdowns, teasing and laughing and urging their friend toward what would in a span of moments — not minutes or hours or days filled with farewells and well wishes, but moments — would become his death.
He gets into the water and starts a version of the crawl stroke or freestyle stroke that is more fighting the water than swimming in it. A flailing of arms, alternating right and left while working hardest to keep the head out of water rather than to float and propel using the water. This is the point in the video that horror set in for us at Parks and Rec. We see this excuse for swimming daily at the Crossett City Pool, and daily we discuss with these “swimmers” how that is not good enough to allow admittance into our 10 foot deep end.
The drowning victim in this case was also wearing clothes not designed for swimming, heavy material that soaks up water and becomes even heavier hindering movement through the water. That’s another subject that comes up over and over at our pool.
Almost to the shore on the other end of the lake, in the most uneventful occurence you will see, this junior so close to his senior year of high school when dreams start to become reality and life really takes off, silently slips under water and doesn’t come back up until divers retrieve his body. The voices in the video go from cocky jeering laughter and comments to fearful screaming. Everybody’s life in this situation changed instantly.
Stories such as this are a situation that sits just under the surface of our minds during the swim season. Now, don’t get this wrong — we love the City Pool and how it serves our youth with public swim, swim team and swimming lessons; how it serves our families with family nights and after school swims; and how it serves our seniors with rejuvenating water exercise classes. Yes, we love our city pool. But we need our guests to understand how critical it is to follow the rules. They are in place for life saving reasons.
The two rules we had the hardest time enforcing last summer were the ones that covered proper attire and level of swimming ability to determine entry into the deep end. We will not be daunted in our efforts to make sure everyone follows these rules because they are about your safety.
Parks and Recreation crews are working hard to get the pool cleaned and filled for all of our enjoyment. Our opening date will be posted on the Crossett Parks and Recreation Facebook page along with the City of Crossett Facebook page. You can always call us with questions about the pool at 870-500-0303.
Once we are open and familiarize ourselves with COVID mandates, we will announce dates and times for swimming lessons and water exercise classes. One of the main mandates is that we can only allow half capacity in the pool. Be patient with this new rule. And be vigilant with all the other rules. They have nothing to do with ruining your fun and everything to do with keeping you safe, Crossett.