Ryan Trares: Just a couple of pool sharks

Sometimes, the hotel pool is calling your name.

With Anthony facing a long President’s Day weekend, our family decided to shake free of the winter blahs with a short trip out of town. The timing was perfect — all of us were feeling a little bit of cabin fever and ready to explore.

Looking around for places a short drive away where we could keep ourselves entertained for a few days, we settled on the Cincinnati area. I had been in the city here and there for baseball games, weddings and other events. But I’d never really had a chance to dig into the city. And Anthony had never been there before.

So on Friday night, we set off. We made a quick detour to the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where I had gone to school way back when. Years had passed since I had been back, and many of my favorite shops, eateries and bars were no longer there.

But stepping onto the campus of red-brick buildings and brick-lined streets, I was instantly transported back in time. I was able to show Anthony my fraternity house, drive by the English building where I spent much of my time and stop into one of the few remaining restaurants I frequented as an undergrad.

That night, we stayed at a nearby state park lodge, where we got down to what I’m sure Anthony felt was the whole point of the trip — swimming in the pool.

If he had his choice, Anthony would decide our vacation itineraries solely around access to a hotel pool. The kid can’t get enough of them, as swimming opportunities are rare in the wintertime.

At the state park, we splashed around in the chilly but refreshing pool. Anthony is in the process of learning to swim, so his focus was practicing swimming from the side of the pool to where I was standing a few feet away. He dunked his head and paddled underwater, or dove down to grab glow sticks from the bottom.

The session set the tone for the rest of the trip. Once we made it to Cincinnati, we did all kinds of fun things — seeing dinosaur bones and exploring a cave at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, solving puzzles and playing like kids at the Cincinnati Children’s Museum, and walking the shark bridge at the Newport Aquarium.

There was good food and souvenirs and few craft brewery stops for my wife and me.

But through it all, Anthony just wanted to go back to his happy place in the hotel pool. And we spent hours in that watery wonderland. Anthony became braver and braver, swimming farther and diving deeper without me. We had some hiccups; he hasn’t quite mastered when to shut his mouth and when to take a breath, so sometimes we had to stop. But his confidence in water has grown immensely.

It’s made me proud to see how much energy he puts into learning to swim, and not giving up when it gets hard. Anthony has been practicing and getting better incrementally for the past few years. I’ve got a feeling this summer is when he puts it all together.

Or maybe sooner, if we find ourselves in another hotel pool.

Ryan Trares is a senior reporter and columnist for the Daily Journal in Franklin. Send comments to [email protected]