Thank you for your article on the sudden closure of several Humboldt County swimming pools (“Can’t Swim,” June 19). I was raised a swimmer: My parents met at a pool, I learned to swim at that same pool and eventually became an instructor and lifeguard (yep, at that same pool). I began teaching swimming nearly 15 years ago, most recently at HSU’s summer lessons for children last year. I fully support the local aquatics community’s efforts toward well-maintained, competition-length public swimming facilities. I believe that all children should learn to swim and that all parents should be aware of water safety principles. And, as your article noted, swimming is the perfect no-impact exercise for people of all ages, abilities and levels of health.
However, I strongly disagree with a point that was made twice in your article: that swimming should be promoted because it helps prevent obesity. I have always been a swimmer and an active person. I currently work as a park ranger and typically hike several miles a day. I’ve also always been overweight. I was overweight when I passed my lifeguard training tests, I was overweight when I was one of the fastest swimmers in my summer league, and I am still overweight. In fact, at 5‘8” and 200 pounds, I am obese.
Despite what we’ve been led to believe, being fat is not a fate worse than death. It is not something that we should fight against at all costs. For many of us, being fat is our genetically determined body type and therefore impossible to avoid, no matter how active our lifestyles or healthful our diets.
While I have reaped many benefits from my active lifestyle, significant weight loss has never been one of them. I am living proof that “fat” and “fit” (or for that matter, “fat” and “swimmer”) are not mutually exclusive terms. Instead of promoting swimming to prevent obesity, we should promote it as a beneficial activity, for people of any size, that provides a no-impact cardiovascular workout, a way to exercise in spite of injury, and just plain fun.
Jennifer Ferreira, Arcata
Sweet Spot:*Jennifer Ferreira wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.*