Vanessa Zaputil and Ellen Gengler just happened to be at a Tukwila City Council meeting in 2010 when they learned the city was considering closing the pool. They’d never met before, but by the end of that meeting they were on their way to building a grass-roots movement that led to the formation of the Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District and the guarantee that the pool would never be in jeopardy again.
Both Zaputil and Gengler serve as commissioners with the Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District, but that doesn’t stop them from helping to organize monthly events at the pool. Current Board of Commissioners President Jeri Frangello-Anderson also is a regular volunteer at the special events and can often be seen helping set up. Di Myers and Sheri Barr are both former chairs of the Tukwila Pool Advisory Committee, as well as dedicated volunteers who have had a big impact on the look of the events, having created many of the special decorative touches.
Aaron and Sharon Shipman moved to Tukwila in 2011, and as former lifeguards who met while working together at their local pool in Shelton, it was just a matter of time before they found themselves pitching in to help at the Tukwila Pool. Even their daughter, Baillee, can be seen helping put up decorations or setting up the snack table – when she isn’t splashing around the pool herself.
Why do these volunteers spend so much of their time helping out at the Tukwila Pool? It’s because they know swimming is more than just a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Drowning is the second leading cause of death among young people in Washington, and learning to swim is a crucial step toward avoiding those tragedies. While it may be fun and games at the Third Saturday Special Events, there’s a deeper purpose that drives volunteers toward making sure every child in Tukwila has access to a swimming pool and takes advantage of the programs offered there.
Registration for the next swim lesson session opens on Wednesday, April 19, for weekday classes and Saturday, April 22, for weekend classes. Go to tukwilapool.org/swimming-lessons for more information. Full scholarships for swim lessons, based on need, are available to Tukwila residents. Knowing how to swim is not just fun, it may save your life or the life of someone you love.
Jennafer Price Cargill is executive director of the Tukwila Pool Metropolitan Park District.