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A Fun Summer of Swimming!

Now that spring has—at least officially—finally arrived, I thought I would look back over our fun summer of swimming last year.  With unseasonably warm weather through the end of September in Memphis, sometimes even record setting highs, we had a chance to swim right into the official beginning of fall.

Here is my wife, affectionately known as Mimi, and our in-town granddaughter stepping in the slightly cooler water for the last time of the season—on September 24th –for one of our best swimming summers ever.

But our swimming season actually got off to a less than auspicious start.  On the morning of April 12thas I wandered into the kitchen for a cup of coffee to help wakeup, I noticed the pool pump making an unusual sound—the one I am so familiar with it making when it loses it prime and continues to run without pumping any water.  I stepped out onto the patio to find this pool scene.

Seeing that the water level had dropped below the top step explained why the pump had lost its prime but when I lifted the cover to the pool equipment to investigate, I was surprised to see that the back side of the rim clamp that holds the lid snuggly onto the filter housing had come lose and allowed water to be pumped out of the top of the filter housing.

It is actually a good thing that the pump lost its prime so as not to continue to pump pool water into the yard.  Apparently in my haste to clean the filter cartridges before I left town earlier in the month, I had neglected to adequately tighten down the housing clamp.  Fortunately, no damage was done, and I was able to reattach the lid and securely clamp it.  Adding water back in the pool and letting it run for a few days cleared everything back up.

While we routinely keep our pool open throughout the winter to get to see these beautiful color contrasts, our swimming season unofficially started out last year when our granddaughter took a plunge in about 66° F water on April 22 asking, “Is it summer yet?”

Unfortunately, before the water temperature really got to a reasonable swimming temperature, I began to get green algae growth.  When I went to the pool store to get a water sample tested, I was told that I was not alone as 9 out 10 customers coming into the store were dealing with algae growth supposedly because of the mild winter we had had.  I groaned fearing that I was going to have another summer of algae problems like the year before when the pool water got so green, it looked like the Chicago river on St. Patrick’s Day.

This took over a week of extremely high chlorine shock treatment that at one point made the pool look like I had filled it with milk (the white is actually dead algae).  Mercifully, I was able to easily clear up the algae this time.

But our official swimming season did not really open until May 23rd (Thursday before Memorial Day) when our granddaughter donned her floaties (what she lovingly calls her triangles) and braved the slightly warmer water.

By the first week of June, our yard had mostly returned to its lush green state and the pool water temperature was really conducive to swimming.

Then on the night of June the 6th (aptly D-Day), we got about 12 inches of rain overnight which filled the pool with excessive water and lots of organic matter for the algae to feast on.

Another trip to the pool store and another shock treatment got the pool back to looking refreshing just in time for a visit from some of our other grandchildren.

And then following this, the pool was surprisingly very low maintenance (with one exception) for the rest of the summer.  We had some of the warmest, driest months in July, August and even into September.  Over this glorious three-month period, we witnessed our granddaughter really advance her swimming skills.

She relinquished her floatie triangles, slapped on swimmer’s goggles, and really began to learn to swim.

Her Mimi worked with her for hours at a time, many days every week over this period of time.  She soon was racing across the pool barely taking a breath, routinely going into the deep water and even fearlessly jumping off the diving board.   Any day we picked her up from summer camp and even after pre-school started, she would want to go straight to Mimi’s house to get in a swim.

On that last day of swimming, she bravely swam to the bottom of the deep end of the pool, retrieved a leaf that had landed there from all the ones now falling, and swam back up with her prize.

After that day, my wife and I both commented that in all the 20 years of having this pool, it seemed this past three months was the most active use it had ever seen.  It made all my “pool-boy” maintenance work activities seem worth it.

The only other issue that arose was sometime in late July or early August, I began to notice the water level dropping.  It was hard to know if it was just due to extremely hot and dry weather or something else.  But as it began to lose more water, I began to suspect that we had sprung a leak like we did two years ago.  Because we were enjoying the pool so much, I did not want to shut it down to repair whatever the cause was so each day, I ran the water hose in the pool for several hours to replace the lost water.  At one point, we even got a letter from our local utility company stating that our water consumption had increased dramatically, and we should look for a leak somewhere.

Once the water temperature had gotten too cold to swim, I knew it was time to rectify that.  My wife and I were about to leave town for a weeklong trip and that seemed as good a time as any to just shut the pump off and let the water level equilibrate to wherever the leak was occurring.  By the time we got back, the water level had indeed dropped down to the level of the pool light just like the last time and for me confirming that the leak was likely in the pool light.

Then Mother Nature dealt me another hard blow with another massive rainstorm that then drastically floated the liner with the pool water down so low.

Still suspecting the pool light housing was again where the leak was, I unsuccessfully tried to get someone out to look at it.  But in the meantime, the water turned greener and even more disheartening, the water level dropped below the pool light indicating that was not the source of the leak.

Fast forward to almost the end of December before I could get the water cleared up and the pool company diver out to check for leaks.

He first confirmed the pool light was not the leak but at the bottom in the deep end, he did find a two-inch gash caused by something sharp.  He said it was either something sharp that fell in the pool or it could have been a sharp edge on our 20-year old pool brush (I may have been the cause all along).  He patched the gash and after several days, I thankfully confirmed no more water was leaking out of the pool.

So, once the weather gets a bit warmer, hopefully we will have another fun summer swimming season.  And if I can escape all my previous pool woes this past summer, I will be one happy pool boy!  Only time will tell.

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