Inspired by Randy and Karen Wilburn’s $30,000 match, long-time Lopezian Rita O’Boyle is also jumping in to add to the year-end challenge! Donate to FLIP now until December 31, 2021, and Rita will match donations, dollar to dollar, up to $25,000, keeping the pool on its path to construction in 2022!
FLIP recently spoke with Rita about her passion for swimming and the community she’s experienced as a result.
What’s your reason for supporting the Swim Center?
I’m a long-time Lopezian and a long-time user of pools. I’ve spent my life swimming. I swam through [primary and secondary] school and through college, competitively.
Now, I’ve had one knee and two hips replaced; I feel like having a place to immerse myself in nice, warm water would be an answer to all my physical ails.
How do you see the Swim Center fostering our community’s development?
It will bring people together. For the aging community, especially, I feel like it’s a gift for the body and the mind.
How has swimming had an impact on your life?
The water is a wonderful gift. It’s been something to look forward to and a way to feel at one with the world.
My family’s swimming history is deep. I have two daughters and a granddaughter who all swam competitively all the way through high school. My father, Eric Cross, was a swimmer and almost made it to the Olympics, save for an injury. He made it possible and encouraged me and my four siblings to swim.
I grew up near Port Sunlight, England, an amazing township built by the Lever Brothers; they built the town to accommodate their soap-factory workers. It had a pool that I could cycle to, and there was never a question asked as to why I was late coming home! The best part [of belonging to a swim team in my youth] was having a comfortable set of people to travel and go to meets with. Even though the sport was competitive, it was based on “do your best,” and everyone got along.
The local swim club had a men’s division and a women’s division. My father’s mother was on the ladies’ team – so I understood early on that swimming can be a real confidence builder. For my father, who was an engineer and often single-minded, swimming was his passion. If there was a swimmable sea, he would swim in it. He was recognized both locally and nationally. People would say, “There goes Eric Cross.”
What is your favorite swimming story?
In my 50s, I belonged to the Seattle Athletic Club. I used to play squash there but was attracted to swimming. One day, the pool pro suggested I join the swim club. I told him, “I could never do that!” But he urged me on anyway, so I finally relented. We would swim a mile or so every time we got together. My favorite chuckle was when a younger person was ticked off that I could swim faster than she could.
That experience reinforced the idea that whatever I put my mind to, I could do: “If you get in the water, you can stay in the water.”
Supporters can give online at www.lopezislandpool.org/ donate or by clicking on the Donate button below.
The FLIP Board is so appreciative to Rita for her inspired match and to Randy and Karen for jump-starting this year-end campaign. Thanks to all FLIP donors for their steadfast support of this critically important project!