Friday, June 22, 2012

Totally Texas -- Stay cool in in the pool

The boys love spray parks -- those soft-floored playgrounds full of devices that squirt, spray, splash and dump water on the children (or adults) cavorting through them. And the city of Dallas loves them as safer, lower cost alternatives to swimming pools.

They’re great ways to tempt kids outdoors for exercise and sunshine, and I’ll provide links to those operating this season in Dallas and some neighboring cities. But they can’t completely replace conventional swimming pools, for the simple reason that you can’t learn to swim in a spray park.

You also can’t row a cardboard boat across a swimming pool. Yes, cardboard boat races are happening July 13 at Samuell Grand Pool, 3201 Samuell Blvd., in Dallas. There’s a $15 entry fee per boat (holding up to six people). Judging will be based on creativity, team spirit and speed -- with a Titanic Award for the best of those that don’t make it all the way across the pool. Contact Elisabeth at 214-670-1515 for information, or download the registration form at

For those with or without cardboard, Dallas operates offers a variety of water safety and swim programs at $30 for eight lessons, and has a scholarship fund to help those who need financial assistance. To request financial aid, click on

See class schedules and specifics under “swimming pools” at Dallas pools will be open through August 12.

There’s also a list of Dallas city pools, with hours and contact information, at the site. When I checked the Dallas Parks site, it mentioned 22 pools, but the city is actually operating 16 this summer, plus one -- at Fretz Park -- only open for swimming lessons. The Lake Highlands pool also has an associated spray park. (Unfortunately, my Ridgewood neighborhood spray park is closed for repairs.)

The seven available spray parks are also listed at the Dallas Parks site. Spray parks are open through Labor Day weekend, September 4.

For public swimming pools in Richardson, see .  (Note: Arapaho pool at Heights Recreation Center is closed; Glenville Pool includes a spray park).

For swimming pools in Garland, see For Mesquite, see

But even if you know how to swim, please wear a life vest if you are boating. Local search and rescue volunteer Susannah Charleson mentions that, because Texas lakes are man-made, they are full of submerged trees that can entangle even the best swimmers.

(Charleson is a Dallas area writer whose memoir of her search and rescue dogs, Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog, is available at and You don’t want to turn up as a sad example in her next book.)

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