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Water-aerobics class about to lose some pool privileges

August 20, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Virginia McCusker likes nothing better than being up to her neck in water - for fitness and for fun.

But as of last Thursday, she and a number of other women who have been enjoying water aerobics at a Hagerstown-area apartment complex have been beached, some temporarily, but others possibly for good.

They were informed via a recent letter from Jaime Dick, director of the Washington County Recreation Department, that Aug. 16 would be the last evening session at one of the two pools at Oak Ridge Apartments.

"There used to be five water-aerobics sessions at Oak Ridge, two of which were in the evenings," Dick said.

That was reduced to one evening session when tenants complained about parking and the time it took away from their use of the pool.

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Dick said he was informed by Vicki Frick of the Oak Ridge management that the evening sessions would not be available after Aug. 16.

Frick said Sunday that she was sorry the evening classes had to be dropped but quickly added that the decision isn't "set in stone."

"I would love to offer the evening sessions, but parking is limited at that location," Frick said, noting that the morning classes don't cause the same problems because most tenants are at work then.

She said she knows the women who attend the evening session really enjoy it, but the compromise was to resume the morning classes after the first of the year when a new greenhouse-style bubble is installed.

After the previous protective bubble over the pool was damaged in a storm and had to be removed, plans were announced for a new prefabricated structure, Dick said.

Because of that construction, the three morning classes for fitness buffs and arthritis sufferers will be temporarily suspended.

It was then Dick said he was told that the evening sessions would no longer be possible.

McCusker was very disappointed when she got her letter from Dick.

"I've been coming here for about three years because it is difficult for me to exercise on land. It's much better for my joints to exercise in the water," McCusker said.

"I'm very disappointed ... it's a huge loss," said Lea Ann Hudson, who has been coming in the evenings for five years after learning about the classes while at Washington County Free Library.

"Water aerobics is good and gentle. I feel much stronger," Hudson said.

She admits she also will miss the night out with the girls.

The evening group numbers about 30 members. Twelve women ranging in age from 44 to 79 were in the water last Thursday.

Dick said the cost to the county for the use of the pool was $300 a month, which he said is very reasonable for the 10-month programs.

In his letter to the class members, Dick urged them to contact the Washington County Commissioners about the need for an affordable indoor pool for county use.

A class member who would only identify herself as Polly said she wrote to all of the commissioners, asking them to look for another site or perhaps put a bubble on one of the county's existing pools.

"I have osteoporosis and water exercise is recommended for me," Polly said.

Shirley Elliott said the water aerobics combined with Weight Watchers has helped her lose 60 pounds and keep it off.

"I don't know what I am going to do now," Elliott said.

She said she e-mailed the county commissioners and got replies from Commissioners William Wivell, Kristin Aleshire and James Kercheval.

"They were sympathetic but had no answers," Elliott said.

Carolyn Barnhart has also been involved since the beginning at the Martin L. "Marty" Snook Park pool.

"I was doctoring for arthritis, so this is much easier on my joints," she said.

She said the evening water-aerobics sessions at Oak Ridge are just right for people who work and only have evenings free.

"We need a county pool, maybe at Hagerstown Community College," Barnhart said.

Dick said that has been discussed, as well as other solutions, but currently he is more concerned about finding an alternative location for the evening classes so there will be little interruption.

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