For 42 years, Rose Rook taught children to swim in her Village 7 Swim Club pool.
Two years ago, she retired and sold the pool she had run since 1970.
Or so she thought.
As she approaches her 86th birthday on Monday, Rook once again finds herself going to the pool every day. But she’s no longer teaching kids to swim.
Instead, she’s teaching adults how to run a swimming pool.
She’s done such a good job that the Village 7 Swim Club finally is celebrating its grand reopening on Friday evening and Rook will be at the pool to join in the festivities.
The party — burgers and hot dogs and waterproof glitter paint and all — is free to members and open to the public for $7 apiece.
“It’s not easy to run a pool and take care of everything,” Rook said Thursday. “I just have to teach them.”
Her pupils include new owner Jacque Thurman, who bought it from Rook in 2012, and pool manager Eileen Fink, whose own children took swim lessons from Rook and worked for her over the years.
“Rose has been so great,” Fink said, describing how Rook drops by each morning to make sure the pump is working and the water chemicals are adjusted properly and all systems are functioning.
“She knows where everything is and how everything works,” Fink said. “She’s been wonderful.”
In fact, Fink credits Rook with helping resolve a crisis that delayed the opening and threatened to keep the pool closed.
I wrote about the pool in March when Thurman had put the pool back on the market after personal circumstance prevented her from getting it open in 2013 and caused her to reconsider owning it. I wrote about it again in June when Thurman decided to chase her dream of pool ownership and started scrambling to get the pool open by mid-month.
The frustration was obvious as Thurman posted updates about the pool on her Facebook page.
She was laboring to repair extensive vandalism done to the pool and bring back to life systems that had sat dormant for two years.
Then there were issues with the plumbing, and the wiring and the sauna and showerheads and the heater.
Finally, the pool was filled but a new pump simply wouldn’t run.
Pool professionals and electricians came and went. A desperate plea for advice on the Facebook page made it clear the season was in jeopardy.
Finally, someone figured out the pump wiring was backward.
“Now we have the most perfect water I’ve seen in a while,” said Fink, a longtime city parks employee who also works at the YMCA. “We have lifeguards. The Snack Shack is open. We’ve started giving lessons and we’re taking reservations for parties.
“It was a ghost town pool. But now it’s back. It’s great.”
There’s still plenty of work to do to get it back to Rook’s standards.
Volunteers continue to paint and weed and rake and other jobs. Fencing needs to be fixed along with other cosmetic work.
But the place is open . . . on days when monsoons and lightning don’t drive everyone for cover.
Hopefully, Friday’s weather will clear and allow a well-deserved celebration.
“Had I known some of the obstacles I faced, I don’t know if I would have taken on the project,” Thurman said. “But I’m really glad I did. I’m not regretting my decision at all.”
While much of the summer is gone, Thurman said many former members are coming back and new members being signed and she’s confident 2015 will be a great season.
“I see all this as preparation work for next year,” she said. “I’ll be ready to go for 2015. It should be a pretty simple process.”
And for that, she thanks Rook.
“Rose is here most every day and we talk most every day,” Thurman said.
Best of all, she said, is that neighbors and former members are coming by to see Rook.
“There have been a lot of happy reunions when people see Rose here,” she said. “I hope they will come to see her Friday night.”
Rook is looking forward to the event.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “I enjoy watching the kids. I do care about the place.
“It has been my thing for 42 years. It’s not so easy to let go of that.”
That’s a good thing for Thurman and Fink and all the people who love the Village 7 Swim Club.
I just hope they save me a burger Friday night!