Princeton's Community Park Pool, poised for the wrecking ball beginning tomorrow, September 12, cast quite a spell on longtime Princeton residents. For most of my seven years as a member, it seemed serviceable but not extraordinary in any way, except of course for Larry Ivan's signature closing refrain. Only when I began hearing the eloquent testimonials, delivered at public meetings about its planned redesign, did I begin seeing this unassuming pool complex in a new way.
Surprisingly, it was the changing rooms, which looked like dull boxes from the outside, that received the most rhapsodic treatment by residents at the meetings. Inside, they were lavishly spacious, with large portals to the sky. The building breathed effortlessly, and like a deep breath conveyed to those within a feeling of expansiveness and relaxation.
If there was a theme that permeated the complex, it was the way it played with light. Lap swimmers had plenty of time to notice the infinite patterns of light dancing on the bottom of the pool. The buildings, as if to emulate the water, would allow light to pass through open beams, or portals in the roofs, casting shadows whose angles would shift through the day--quiet reminders of the sun's arcing passage across the sky.
The complexity of patterns in the water was mimicked by the weathering of the wood.
A new, redesigned pool complex will emerge in coming months, to open next summer. It will no doubt have more efficient pumps, better filters, and make more efficient use of space. Solar panels may sprout on the rooftops. A waterslide will entertain.
But for now, I'm grateful to have caught a glimpse of something soulful and profound beneath the old pool's simple facades.
Another homage to the pool, with more photos and text, is posted at http://princetonnaturenotes.blogspot.com/2011/09/homage-to-swimming-pool.html