SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Opportunities for swimming on the island of Oahu are plentiful whether at the beach or at one of the four Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) swimming pools available to residents of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii (USAG-HI) communities and Army families stationed here.

Swimmers young and old, Soldiers or civilians, can enjoy a variety of amenities at all the facilities with the opening of Aliamanu Military Reservation (AMR) pool, May 25, and the Helemano Military Reservation (HMR) pool, May 26.

The AMR and HMR facilities add to the year-round services already offered at the Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) and the Richardson, Schofield Barracks pools.

"See this crowd here today'" said Momi Smith, FMWR, aquatics director, pointing to a crowd of toddlers in the Richardson wading pool. "This is nothing compared to a hot summer day."

Smith says the pools are ready for the peak "summer" months and points out a few new safety requirements, upgrades and additions swimmers may see at the pool facilities this year.

One major safety upgrade, as required by the Virginia Graeme Baker (VGB) Act, was the installation of anti-entrapment drain covers at all facilities. According to Smith, all FMWR Hawaii pools are now in compliance with the VGB Act, which protects children from life-threatening injuries and deaths from dangerous pool and spa drains.

<b>Richardson Pool</b>
Richardson Pool is open year-round. Looking out across the 103-meter long, 25-meter wide body of water, every corner is busy with water activities at any hour of the day and any time of the year. Towering above it all is one of its newest amenities, a 146-foot long spiral slide.

Smith said the new slide is safer with anti-slip stairs and provides a wider stairway split into two levels, for an easier climb to the top, especially for smaller children.

For Soldiers, the facility was one of the first to receive a Shallow Water Egress Trainer (SWET). Training with the device is the next step in familiarizing Soldiers with the difficulties and hazards of escaping from an overturned vehicle in shallow water.

The Richardson pool is the largest in the Department of Defense and offers 25- and 50-meter lap lanes, a one-meter diving board, two three-meter diving boards, a five-meter dive platform and a hard top gazebo area with gas grills for pool party rentals.

An 18-inch deep children's wading pool is available for nonswimmers and children ages 5 and younger.

<b>Tripler Army Medical Facility Pool</b>
Also open year-round, the TAMC facility will start the high season with a resurfaced children's wading pool.

Although the wading pool is currently closed, "plaster repairs are in the works," Smith said, and she expects the wading pool to reopen in June.

"Toddlers love the TAMC wading pool because it graduates in depth from 0- to 12-inches deep in the center," she said, "like a beach."

She also revealed that the facility will be installing a new 6-foot slide. The TAMC community also has access to a hard top gazebo area with gas grills for pool party rentals.

<b>Military Reservation Pools</b>
The AMR and HMR pools are smaller, seasonal facilities open May-October. Smith is currently working to offer some convenience upgrades at both facilities to include 20-by-20 foot tents and gas grills for pool party renters.

"This will give our communities at both these facilities a large, shaded area for children and family parties," said Smith. She explains that permanent tents are not in those locations due to the winds. Ultimately, Smith would like to see the facilities get permanent gazebo areas.

Because HMR's pool depth starts at 5-feet deep, the aquatics staff provides a teaching platform in the water to reduce the depth to approximately two-and-a-half feet.

"The platform is especially useful during the 'Learn to Swim' classes, making it easier for the children," Smith said.

HMR also has a children's wading pool, but AMR does not due to space limitations. However, children ages 5 and younger are allowed in the pool with a life jacket on and accompanied by parents.

<b>Hale Koa Pool</b>
The Hale Koa Hotel, located directly on Waikiki Beach, is an Armed Forces Recreation Center that boasts three swimming pools and is open to anyone with a valid military ID.

All FMWR facilities are handicap accessible and offer a variety of classes for all ages. Residents are encouraged to get ready to make a splash, swim some laps, enjoy water aerobics or learn to swim at these facilities this summer.

Page last updated Fri April 24th, 2009 at 22:54