By Steve Williams
When hot summer days get up in the 90s and feel like 100, wouldn’t it be nice to have a swimming pool in the backyard?
Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but you do.
Inskip Pool, at 4204 Bruhin Road in North Knoxville, has served local folks since 1959 and longtime manager Randy Love says the facility “is in its best shape since it was built” between 1956 and 1958.
Love, Aquatics Specialist with the City of Knoxville Parks and Recreation Department, has worked at Inskip Pool for 30 years – he actually calls it a “labor of love” – and became manager in 1996.
“Our staff is a family in the truest sense,” said Love. “We push and strive to exceed anyone else’s expectation to meet our own, with safety and genuine care first on the list.”
The facility in some ways will take you back in time – particularly if you’re relaxing on that antique RC Cola bench close to the concession stand – but in other ways it has all the modern conveniences, too.
The pool itself is huge, with several sections of varying depths of water – from the “baby pool” to the 11-foot area where three diving boards are, including the high dive that makes 10-year-old kids feel like they are on top of the world as they wait for lifeguards to give the OK to jump or dive.
“They are the lifeblood of what we do,” said Love. “They are the face of our facility. From customer services – helping folks carry their bags to their chosen spot for the day – or enforcing policies and rules by teaching instead of policing an area, we teach them how to interact.
“We really recruit hard to find the right type of person … Usually it’s somebody that has quite a bit of kindness and consideration. Those are things you can’t teach.”
There is a shortage of lifeguards in the nation, Love pointed out, but not at Inskip, which has a staff of 30. They range in age from 15 to 22 and come from high schools all over Knox County. They work as a team and Love couldn’t be more proud of them.
“We’ve learned to teach our staff to be proactive and preventive instead of reactive and rescue and that has created a big change plus putting in the American Red Cross Learn to Swim program over the last 10 years,” said Love.
“We’ve had no deaths or impactful situations at all over the last 30 years.”
What else makes a pool like Inskip successful?
“Trust and hard work and a lot of love behind it,” replied Randy.
Health and safety do come first.
“Those of us that handle chemistry here are trained obviously as aquatic facility operators, but we still do everything by hand,” said Love.
And as far as the water quality, “We try to exceed the health code as far as we can exceed it,” he added.
In addition to the pool, there is a sandy beach volleyball area and Inskip Park, with playground, shelter and tennis courts, is just across the parking lot.
The Inskip Pool facility also has a community touch as many of its regular visitors have brought flowers and trees from their own homes to decorate it, adding to its beauty.
“Everything inside the gates has been donated by the Inskip community,” said Love. “There are 17 crepe myrtles and no telling how many different variety of daylilies and Black-eyed Susans.
“It means somebody loves this place very much – to bring something like that from their home. It’s a very select few that do that, that have fallen in love with this place and our staff and love the way the pool is manicured and taken care of.”
Love is just one of Inskip Pool’s longtime employees. Coach David Emory managed the pool from the early 1970s to 1994. Mark Majors has worked off and on since 1985 and was manager in 1995.
Other longtime workers include Charlotte Bedwell, who was cashier for 37 years before retiring, and Rodney Beverly, who is in his 27th year in charge of security.
Harvey Keith Smith has to be mentioned, too. He’s been coming to the pool about every day for years and likes to swim, chat with the lifeguards or spend his time drawing colorful pictures.
The pool is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11 to 5 and 1 to 6 on Sundays and admission is $4 per person.
The pool, however, will be closed during weekdays when school starts back. The pool will remain open weekends through Labor Day.
Reservations for private parties on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights also are available.
And don’t forget the annual Doggie Dip Day the Sunday after Labor Day.
“That’s a pure joy day,” said Love. “Non-stop laughing.”