"Letter to the editor: Swimming in Matagorda County"

     It’s 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 2, school is not back in session following the holidays, and it’s just a plain nasty, nasty day - 49 degrees, raining, cold and wet.  
   On my way home after a light workout at the nice, warm and comfortable Anytime Fitness, where I barely worked up a sweat, I drove by our outdoor 16th Street pool and sat and watched for a while in some admiration.   
   There I witnessed about 20 young athlete swimmers pulling off the heavy pool covers, engaging in a rigorous workout, replacing the covers, and then sprinting for the warmth of the locker rooms.  
   Coach Bob Button, under an umbrella and himself cold and wet, paced the deck, conducting the workout.   
   The thought of discipline, commitment, and dedication came to my mind - a teaching experience and growth for the youth of our community.   
   Not only are these kids learning a physical skill they will hold for a lifetime, but also the mental toughness that will stick with them though the next phases of their lives.   
   They could be lying in bed under the covers with their noses stuck in their cell phones or watching TV - but not these kids and their coach. 
   Our little 16th Street pool has served us well over its’ 50-plus-year life, providing recreational, competitive and therapeutic swimming for all ages.  
   Overall, it’s the most used athletic and recreational facility in the city.   
   Our competitive summer league swim team is as good as any in the state, if not the very best, and many of our high school swimmers have gone on to the collegiate level, including prestige programs such as Stanford and the University of Texas.   
   Countless of our youngsters have gained the lifelong skill of swimming through swim lessons, participation in our wonderful summer league, and just playing in the water in a safe environment. 
   This is the only heated pool in all of Matagorda County, a growing County with five school systems. Due to its age though, we find significant capital improvements are needed to provide its viability and extend its life.   
   However, instead of pouring money into an aging facility, Wellness Matagorda, in conjunction with the City of Bay City, is attempting a project to construct an indoor aquatic center with an outdoor mini-water park envisioned to be located in the vicinity of the high school-hospital campuses.   
   This effort is being led by ex-County Judge Loy Sneary and Renee Savage.   
   As one might imagine, the cost commitment for such an undertaking is significant, so the question becomes “can we manage the cost?” 
   The answer is yes we can, as long as the organizations, businesses, and individuals of our community come together in support.   
   El Campo, of Wharton County, managed to build an aquatic center only by way of strong community support; therefore, I reason, “So can we in Matagorda County.”  
   The benefit to our entire community and our youngsters, however, is more than worth the commitment and will produce a facility that will provide indoor, year-round recreational swimming, swim lessons, competitive swimming, physical therapy, and the like.   
   Better health, improved family life, and a sense of community pride will come as a result. 
   Bottom line, if our kids are willing to swim outdoors in the cold and wet of winter, 
   I for one don’t mind working to make our swim programs better, more robust, and all inclusive - and I hope you do as well.  
   Together let’s build an Aquatic Center in Bay City for all of Matagorda County. 
Bill Cornman 
Bay City 

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