Marco? Polo! Oh no … what’s that?!

I’m warning you, this blog entry is a bit gross.

It was our family’s first trip out to our community pool. We love driving there, especially for our inaugural trip. It’s a 20 minute drive from our house that takes us through pastures with grazing horses and corn fields with corn stalks that grow taller by the day.

If you are fortunate enough to have access to a public or semi-private pool, you know how long it takes to pack up the towels, sunscreen, and the optional giant foam noodle (as mentioned in my previous blog). There is the effort in making sure that a supply of snacks are packed and a change of clothing for the shower.

All this preparation is paid off by that first plunge into a sparkling clean pool.

Here comes the aforementioned gross part.

Let me just say that we have been swimming at this pool for a decade now, and we love going because of all the friends who we see out there any time we go. Our kids have gone to camp here, as many children in the area for decades since the 1930’s.

Every trip to the pool becomes an unplanned social outing for us. And finally, our children are at the age where they are all confident in the pool and we let them go off with friends and down the slide. So it was no burden to me when a friend asked if I could watch her daughter for a moment so she could get out of the pool.  In fact, I enjoyed having swimming and walking races with this delightful 5 1/2 year old I have known since the day she was born.

Until I saw some brown matter hovering near the bottom of the shallow end of the pool. 

I immediately informed the lifeguard, who had problems hearing me above the ever-present shouts of Marco? Polo! that has been a long tradition in any pool in North America.  I pleaded again to check this brown matter out, while I coaxed my little friend to swim over to the other side of the pool.  Because when it’s your first swim of the season, and you made all that effort to be at the pool, you don’t want your worst fears of what you thought you saw in the water confirmed.  

But alas, the lifeguard gave a sharp, long blow on her whistle and yelled, “Everybody out of the pool!!”


The lifeguard staff promptly did exactly what they were supposed to do. They evacuated the pool and attended to the situation.  It was the closest thing to a Caddyshack moment I can ever remember having at a pool. 

There are strict federal guidelines about what to do in these situations, because these situations have caused to make many people sick if not handled properly. In fact, in 2005,  New York State officials had to close a state-run spray park because hundreds of people became ill after exposure to contaminated water.

So, as they say, it happens. It just has never happened to my direct knowledge. But it hasn’t made us afraid to go back in the water, and when the lifeguard finally gave the okay – 90 minutes later, we jumped right back in.

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About stacylynngittleman

I have been a reporter and public relations professional for over 30 years, specializing in profile features and investigative longform writing. During my career I've profiled WWII Honor Flight Veterans, artists and musicians and have written on topics that range from environmental and gun control issues to Jewish culture. Click around on my writing samples plus read my blog on my personal life raising three kids over 27 years and three cities.

2 responses to “Marco? Polo! Oh no … what’s that?!”

  1. Elazar says :

    Wait, so did it hit the bottom of the pool, so to speak? Similar things have happened in a certain religiously/culturally themed summer camp near my house that shall remain nameless. On one such occasion, I believe all they did is remove the offending mass, shock the pool, and let everyone back in after a while.


  2. Jennifer Kim says :

    yep..back in the 80’s it happpenned to me. I was the lifeguard, and I had to fish it out with the big net…talk about gross!!! I’m getting a little sick right now just thinking about it! I threw it into the woods, boosted the chlorine, checked the levels, and let everyone back in the pool.


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