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Who needs an indoor pool? Berkeley Co. residents say they do

September 04, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - For two summers, Twila Carr and Nancy Burke have captained what likely could be the most boisterous group of singing "cheerleaders" assembled at the public swimming pools in Martinsburg.

How well they sing along to the Rocky III soundtrack hit "Eye of the Tiger" or Aretha Franklin's signature song "Respect," isn't as important to the water aerobics exercise group as what they cheer for when a news reporter shows up for a workout session.

"OK, who needs an indoor swimming pool?" Carr shouted last week to more than 20 exercisers bobbing up and down in the shallow end of Lambert Park pool off Woodbury Avenue.

"We do!," shouted a group of mostly middle-age and retired women in unison as 24-year-old lifeguard Heather Brent kept a watchful eye.

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"I'm used to them," Brent said smiling. "They're funny ... they have a pretty good time for the most part."

Continuing that good time indoors during the other three seasons of the year, however, has been a challenge for the health-minded group, according to Carr and Burke, who have been allowed by the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board to hold the classes at War Memorial and Lambert parks at no charge.

With the Board's pool season ending last week at Lambert Park, Carr said some in the group now will migrate to Shepherd University's wellness center for the cooler months.

But access at Shepherd is not exclusive as it is at the parks in Martinsburg, Carr said. Two hotel pools where classes were once held are no longer an option, either, the women said.

Burke, who has been leading water aerobics classes in conjunction with Carr's, said she was able to collect a donation of $427 for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board before her last session of the season at War Memorial Park last month.

"We would be pleased to do fundraisers," Burke said.

Parks & Recreation Executive Director Steve Catlett said last week that building an indoor pool at Lambert Park could cost $8 million or more, according to rough estimates.

"We're finalizing a preliminary layout, floor plan and rendering that would be an extension of the Berkeley 2000 Recreation Center," Catlett said of the gymnasium, which is currently being expanded with three wings.

Catlett said he hopes to be able to present the indoor pool plan to local government leaders in October in an effort to move the long-hoped for project ahead.

For Brenda Plotner of Martinsburg, an indoor facility would continue the health benefits she's already realized as a cancer survivor and believes it would help others improve their health as well.

Plotner said the water aerobics classes have helped her "tremendously" with rehabilitation of her right leg, where doctors found lymphoma, she said.

"We live in an obese world, and if we had an indoor pool, that would cut down on it," Plotner said.

Carr said trouble with the birth of her oldest daughter several years ago led her to water aerobics. And many of the more than 100 people who have participated in the exercise sessions in the last two summers have been sent there by area physicians for a number of medical conditions, Carr said.

What didn't the doctors prescribe? Carr's customized 1960s, '70s and '80s music selection, which is fed from her "Wal-Mart special" compact disc player stereo via microphone to the park pool's public address system.

"I've had a lot of (compilations) they didn't like," Carr said of her experiments with jibing the music with the muscle-moving turns and twists that she and Burke are licensed to prescribe.

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