Josette Gonzales was within a few minutes of losing her little girl.
About three years ago, Gonzales took her family to a swim party at a neighbor’s house. As Gonzales lounged by the pool, she watched her then 5-year-old daughter, Gabriela, splash around the shallow end before disappearing under the water. She said her neighbor had one of those pools where “the floor just drops to the deep end.”
Gonzales, paralyzed for a second, was unsure of what to do.
“My heart dropped. I began panicking. Do I jump in or call for help?” she said. “I just jumped in fully clothed. We came out and my girl was coughing out water. Everything happened so quickly.”
From that moment on, Gonzales, 41 and a 15-year resident of Anaheim, made it a point that her two young kids would learn how to swim.
She enrolled them in the YMCA program at Anaheim’s Pearson Park.
For the past several summers, from June to August, the YMCA at Pearson Park has helped her kids, 11-year-old William and now 8-year-old Gabriela, learn how to navigate the waters. The family is also usually among the several residents who set up picnic blankets under a nearby shade and use the pool for free during the weekends.
However, with summer over, the city’s only community pool closes. The swim classes are over and many residents such as Gonzales and others who rely on the pool as a recreational family weekend break are off to find a different alternative.
“We have to wait until next year,” Gonzales said.
The YMCA has operated the pool for the city since 2011. The city allows the YMCA to use the facility for free in exchange for offering discounted swim classes for kids and adults and hosting two…