Still time to take a dip at Keyes

MILFORD – Take a big breath. Hold it. Hold it. Now, jump for joy into the crystal waters at Keyes Memorial Pool, a main attraction at Keyes Memorial Park, 45 Elm St., in Milford. Summer fun there still is an option, before the pool closes for the season Aug. 25.

The Milford Recreation Department, under the directorship of Arene Berry, operates the pool, which opened in June of 1965 after a vigorous building project. The completion was effected by town administrators, volunteers, donors and funds from the fortune of the late Arthur L. Keyes, a solid proponent of providing healthy outdoor activities for the town’s families and others.

Milford’s Bonnie Cox is the pool’s administrative assistant of 11 years. She yields the post when the pool closes and school begins, for she is the secretary and receptionist at Milford’s Heron Pond Elementary School. She said she relishes the opportunity to work where pleasure is a fringe benefit every day. Park ranger Daniel Burgess, 22, of Milford, said he agrees. He helps keep the park safe, enforces the rules and maintains the equipment. Cox commended his dedication and that of all those who work together to make the summer enjoyable.

“It’s nice to watch people come here to have fun,” Cox said. “All ages come, every day, from babies in the toddler pool to seniors. Those who are 62 and over get in free. So, too, do children age 4 and under. Thunder’s the only thing that shuts us down.”

A recent visit revealed folks sitting on the pool deck, reveling in the warmth radiated through a beach towel. Others reclined on white plastic lounge chairs. Tables beneath canopies offered respite from the sunshine for those preferring shade. The season passes purchased are bargains for residents and non-residents alike. Residents pay $20 per pass or $80 for a family of four or more. Non-residents pay double the rate. But a day pass at $5 is an available amenity.

A certified contingent of lifeguards takes turns ensuring the safety of young and old. On hand was Julia Anderson, 18, of Milford, the assistant coach of the Milford Keyes swim team, a powerhouse that won first place in Division IV of the annual championships that took place this summer.

The Milford team and 29 others from New Hampshire and surrounding states comprise the Granite State Swim Association, a summer recreational league of four divisions. The Milford team bested some fine swimmers from Oyster River, Jaffrey-Rindge and many others. Anderson said her summer job is an ideal post for her.

“I’m the assistant coach of the swim team,” Anderson said. “But the best thing about my summer job is working with the kids.”

Sharing lifeguard duties that day were Zoe Daudier, 18, of Milford, a lifeguard and swim instructor; Elsa Saucier, 17, of New Boston, a senior at Goffstown High; Abby Whalen, 16, of Milford; and Erin Quinlan, 19, of Milford, along with other guards awaiting their turn to serve the summer crowd.

Visitors Brian and Teresa McGinley, of Milford, along with son, Hunter, 16, Heather, 14, and Raymond, 13, staked out a space in a shaded area. Mom and dad watched as their trio of kids jumped in for another day’s swimming. Brian said most days find the family at the pool, or hiking, or otherwise outdoors. An annual trip for whale watching was anticipated for the weekend.

“Milford is a great community,” Brian said. “It’s very close-knit. Everybody looks out for everyone.”

Teresa added another value, that of disconnecting from technology and taking time to relax with the family. She considers time at the pool to be high-level quality time.

“Shut off the electronics and get outside,” Teresa said. “Go hiking, go swimming. Summer doesn’t need to be expensive. Summer’s almost over now. Don’t wish it away.”

Meanwhile, Arene Berry, recreation department director, capped the consensus that summertime at Keyes Memorial Pool is a memory-maker for all its staff and patrons. She said she already is looking forward to next summer and pool season in Milford.

“We love that we are able to provide a gem such as Keyes Pool and encourage everyone to visit before summer comes to a close,” Berry said. “We look forward to seeing you before Aug. 25, as well as upon your return for the summer of 2018.”

She commended everyone whose participation in the pool’s programs — including its swim team, swimming lessons, senior water exercise classes and other offerings — made the season a winner.

“Thank you to everyone who made this a fantastic and successful summer,” Berry said.