Sunday, March 19, 2017

Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In

Nelson back in English Bay - photo by Junie Quiroga
Nice to be back in the ocean again after such a long winter. While in theory I could have kept swimming in the ocean and stayed warm enough in my 5mm wetsuit, it was a nice change to be inside for a few months and work out with some of my Aquatic Centre buddies. Needless to say it's a completely different experience with all the crowded lanes and everyone rushing to beat the clock.



http://globalnews.ca/news/3322987/spring-has-sprung-what-weather-to-expect/


Crowded Vancouver Aquatic Centre
 As someone who has to compete everyday in the workplace I can't understand why people would want to spend their leisure time in such a competitive training frenzy instead of just enjoying the pleasure and exercise of a good swim.There's more to life than competition and anyways, they haven't a hope of beating any of Michael Phelps' Olympic records. Out in English Bay there are no time clocks or crowds, just some birds, the occasional seal, and the opportunity to contemplate life as you float in Nature's watery embrace.

 Vancouver Aquatic Centre from the inside - photo by Junie Quiroga
The first thing you notice about the Aquatic Centre is that it's completely closed off from the outside world. Not a window in sight to let in any light or to share the view of English Bay even though the building itself is right on the beach. A truly ugly, concrete bunker that must have been designed by a blind man or someone who specialized in Cold War bomb shelters.

Vancouver Aquatic Centre from the outside
Crystal Pool from the inside

Crystal Pool from the outside
Even its predecessor the old Crystal Pool, which lasted from 1928 - 1974 until the Aquatic Centre opened a few blocks away, had at least one window. It was also the pool where Elaine Tanner, Canada's last great female swimmer and winner of Olympic, Pan Am and Commonwealth medals, trained. Thankfully the time is coming soon for the Aquatic Centre to be replaced with a new facility, but, where it goes and what it will look like, are closely held secrets.

Sunset Beach
The most obvious place to build a new facility would be around Sunset Beach which right now is nothing but a hot dog stand, a muddy playing field, and an empty parking lot. The view of the ocean and mountains is fabulous and, with a little imagination, a world class facility could be built that really highlights West Coast design. A new Aquatic Centre could be built for free by one of the big developers and, in exchange, the old site could be turned over as compensation. Whether or not the City and Parks Board can arrange something this simple or get bogged down in all sorts of social housing, density, and bike lane arguments is another matter altogether.

English Bay - photo by Junie Quiroga
 As long as I have the ocean to swim in I don't really care what they do with the Aquatic Centre. As much as I appreciate the lifestyle of a high density city, being able to get away from all the people by simply slipping into the ocean is magical. I don't need windows either and, if this is my age of Aquarius, all I can say is let the sunshine in.

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