After seven years without a pool, hundreds of children and family members were at Jackie Robinson Family YMCA in southeast San Diego on Friday to enjoy the grand opening of the facility’s aquatic center.
Anna Arancibia, executive director of the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA, said it’s been a long time.
“This pool is more than just a pool. It’s a symbol of access, community and belonging for all,” she said. “With this amazing new gear, we hope to create a positive community gathering space that provides everyone with access to opportunities that lead to a happy and healthy life.”
On a hot Friday in late June, San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe told the crowd that nearly 80% of low-income kids had never taken swimming lessons.
“It’s alarming because we also know that drowning continues to be one of the leading accidental deaths of our children, particularly during the summer months,” she said. “So giving our kids a place to take swimming lessons close to home can save lives in the future.”
YMCA board member Gene Bailey said the community has been asking for this project for decades, but lacked funding until recently.
“So to the young people listening today: dream big, dream big, work very, very hard and never, ever give up,” he said.
Official pool hours are still undecided and will depend on the ability to staff much-needed lifeguards.
But swimming lessons will start at the new pool on July 5, and the center will be offering 70 free swimming lessons in the coming months.