Let’s swim in Jamaica Pond

Why not allow Jamaica Plainers and others to swim in Jamaica Pond? Would it not be great to have a local swimming hole, where the community can come together around one of the oldest human pastimes in a beautiful setting?

The Boston Parks Department gives several reasons to prohibit swimming in Jamaica Pond, but none of them appear to stand up to scrutiny. And, if anything, the recent, tragic drowning death provides more evidence that we need a safer, regulated swimming environment.

Swimming is an inherently risky activity. So are walking, biking and driving. The city mitigates the potential danger of these activities by setting rules. Pedestrians should cross the street in crosswalks. Drivers must stop and let them cross. Bikers must obey the rules of the road and would be well-advised to wear helmets. Like bikers, drivers must obey all the rules of the road or risk penalty and injury to others or themselves. Why not establish rules for swimming in Jamaica Pond that stop short of prohibiting it?

The city says that the pond has sudden and steep drop-offs in water depth, thereby creating a hazard for swimmers. That’s why the pond needs a lifeguard to monitor a designated swimming area.

The city says the pond is an emergency backup drinking water resource, yet acknowledges that even if the water were ultimately needed for drinking, it would have to be treated regardless. After all, we all know there are air pollutants and runoff pollution from nearby roads, not to mention plenty of birds, ducks and dogs enjoying the pond.

The city says the pond is historically significant. Of course! The pond is a treasure. And it would be an even greater treasure if we could swim in it instead of having to trek to Walden Pond or wherever else.

We can have a beautiful, local swimming hole. We should seize this opportunity and give ourselves and our kids a wonderful outdoor recreation option within walking distance. Let’s swim in Jamaica Pond!

Tom Fendley
Jamaica Plain

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