Let's go swimming

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From left, Tony Poytress, Michel Poytress, Alex Harnett, Romondia Wesbest and Marie Shelier Hancock take a break from swimming at the Duncan Street Pool in Newnan.

By BRENDA PEDRAZA-VIDAMOUR brenda@newnan.com It's hot. It's summer, and the kids are out of school. It's a combination of events that ultimately leads Joe and Helen Poytress of Newnan every year to load up their more than a dozen foster children and grandchildren into their two SUVs to the area's swimming spots, such as the Duncan Street Pool.
"Mr. Joe," as he's known to many of the Coweta youth who board his school bus daily, showed up at the city of Newnan's pool last week with only five of his 19 grandchildren. He said the five foster children would have been with him at the pool that day, too, but they were at another event with his wife. The retired Greyhound bus driver has been taking his children, foster children and grandchildren to the region's various local swimming spots every summer "every since they were babies." While the Duncan Street Pool is owned by the city, it is operated by Coweta County's recreation department, and it's the only community public swimming pool in the Coweta area, at least in the traditional sense of the term. Per state law, a public swimming pool is "any structure, chamber or tank containing an artificial body of water used by the public for swimming, diving, wading, recreation or therapy," along with the pool's other buildings and equipment regardless of whether a fee is charged. The county health department is charged with enforcing state regulations on public swimming pools, including issuing the pool permits and conducting inspections. Under the state's definition, Coweta has 32 public swimming pools at day-care centers, hotels, motels, churches and health spas, according to Duane Fields, director of Coweta's environmental health department. The Summit Family YMCA, which has an 18-lane pool in its natatorium, and the Sonrise Fitness & Wellness Center are examples of health spas. Subdivisions pools, which are the norm now, aren't considered public swimming pools and aren't regulated, but that could change under the state's swimming pool program, Fields said. "We don't inspect subdivision pools unless we receive a complaint," he said. The public swimming pools that used to be open years ago in the cities of Senoia and Grantville have since been filled in, leaving the Duncan Street Pool, in essence, as the last public swimming spot in Coweta. The Poytress' grandchildren also regularly visit swimming spots at some of the state parks that are within a half-hour's driving distance, including their favorite, Tanner Beach at John Tanner State Park in Carrollton, and the Liberty Bell Pool at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park in Pine Mountain, where Poytress' grandchildren learned to swim. The county recreation department stopped offering swimming lessons shortly after the local YMCA, the Summit Family YMCA, began its aquatics programs. Here's more information about local swimming spots for this summer: Duncan Street Pool The Duncan Street pool is in Newnan's Lynch Street Park near the Boy's & Girl's Club at the corner of Wesley Street and Richard Allen Drive. Richard Allen Drive used to be named Duncan Street. The pool opens for an eight-week period every summer, typically the week after school lets out, and it closes the week before school starts. It's open from 1-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and it costs $1 to get in. Lifeguards are on duty. Tanner Beach Tanner Beach is a man-made beach at the John Tanner State Park in Carrollton off Georgia Highway 16. Part of the lake has been roped off for use as a swimming beach, which is the largest of any Georgia state parks. The park is open from 7 a.m.-9:45 p.m. daily. Park admission is $3 per vehicle, and Wednesdays are free. There is no charge for the beach, and small rental fees for some of the other park amenities such as the pedal and fishing boats. Liberty Bell Pool The Liberty Bell Pool, so named because it's shaped like the Liberty Bell, is a rock bottom and spring-fed pool. It is inside the FDR State Park, about a mile and a half from the town of Pine Mountain on Highway 354. It is one of the largest spring-fed pools in the state. It holds more than 550,000 gallons of clear spring water and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940. The pool typically opens around Memorial Day every year and closes on Labor Day. It's closed on Mondays, and has varying hours Tuesday through Sunday and on holidays. Typically, the pool opens at noon on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. It closes by 6:30 p.m. most days, except on Wednesdays when it holds a Family Night until 8:30 p.m. Daily admission is from $3.50 to $1.50. Special rates are given to groups, senior citizens and active military. Season passes are also offered. Summit Family YMCA The facility, which has an natatorium, has a strong aquatics program and has been host to several regional and state swimming championships. Membership information is detailed on its Web site, as well as information about the swimming lessons. In general, the YMCA offers swimming lessons for all ages starting with parent-assisted programs for children as young as six months. Summer weekday classes are held Monday through Thursday in two-week sessions through July. Registration ends July 10 for the last of the summer session classes. The YMCA also offers Saturday sessions, private sessions and fall and winter sessions. The lessons range in cost from $41 to $83, depending on membership status and the session period.

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