Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer in many ways. In Detroit it denotes the final weekend that the pool at Brennan Recreation Facility in Rouge Park is open. It’s the only outdoor pool run by the city of Detroit.
Brennan Pool is one of seven pools run by the city of Detroit. The facility was built in 1929, and after being closed for a period of time, it was renovated and reopened in 2014. Residents now visit Brennan Pool for swimming lessons, water aerobics and more.
King Williams is a member of the Detroit All Star Aquatics swim team. Williams says his relationship with swimming began when his mom took him to a recreational center and asked him if he wanted to swim.
“And me being four, I didn’t know what she meant, so I said yes,” Williams recalls. “Back then I had a nervous tic, and instead of putting me on medications she put me in the water so I would be able to get better.”
Williams is one of the best swimmers in the state. He recently placed second for 12-year-olds in the 100m freestyle at the Michigan Age Group State Championships.
La’Von Waters also grew up swimming and has been in a lot of pools in the area. Waters swam competitively in the past, but this summer her focus has been on teaching swimming lessons. She wants to help prevent drownings in her community. At least three locals have died this summer alone.
“There’s been so many drownings this year, especially with people of color. So I think it’s very important for everybody to learn how to swim,” Waters says.
Over the summer, the city of Detroit has offered free swimming lessons at Brennan and other community pools.
Sharon Green is lounging on a nearby lawn chair, keeping an eye on her daughter, niece and nephew. Green lives in Detroit and takes the kids to the pool three or four times a week.
“I enjoy watching them have fun,” Green says. “They can’t get enough of this place up here. It’s a very nice place to bring your family just to get away, you know?”
Changes will soon be underway for the facility. Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores’ Family Foundation is donating $20 million to build a new community center next to the pool. City officials say the idea is to fill a gap in indoor recreation access for the surrounding Cody Rouge neighborhood.
At a community meeting in August attendees were asked what they wanted to see at the facility by choosing from a list of options, including a fitness center, cooking classes, crafts and more. Additional community engagement meetings are planned for the fall and winter seasons.
Construction of the new facility is scheduled to begin in summer 2023.
Listen: Brennan Pool will close for the season after Labor Day Weekend.
Photos by Laura Herberg/WDET.