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Swim season begins with a splash

Four Baltimore children helped Mayor Martin O'Malley launch this summer's swim season yesterday by pushing him into the pool at Druid Hill Park.

The Big Splash Party, which officially opens most of the city's municipal pools to the public, will be held tomorrow.

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After O'Malley greeted his family and spoke briefly to the 70 Rosemont Elementary School pupils in bathing suits at the pool's edge, the mayor removed his tennis shoes and plunged into the 6--foot-deep water - helped by a push from his 6-year-old son, William, and several other children.

The mayor then swam to shallow water, where the children joined him with beach balls and flotation devices.

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Many crowded around the mayor for hugs and high-fives, but most of the young swimmers were far more interested in their inaugural swim of the summer season.

Eight-year-old Melanie Forrest bragged about the contest she and others had with the mayor to see who could remain underwater longest.

"It was fun and exciting to push the mayor in," said 10-year-old Ieshia Carr.

Rosemont's pupils, as recognition for their improvement on state tests, were chosen to be the "first to cool off this summer," said Kimberley A. Flowers, the city's director of parks and recreation.

Test scores in reading and math proficiency increased nearly 30 percentage points for Rosemont third-graders and more than 20 percentage points for fifth-grader.

O'Malley emphasized the importance of summer recreation facilities for city youths and the importance of summer learning. He encouraged pupils to spend 30 minutes reading and 30 minutes practicing math each day.

"Our obligation to our kids doesn't end with the end of the school year," he said.

Starting tomorrow, the city's five park pools will be open Monday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $1.50 per visit or $25 for the season.

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The 13 pools within walking distance of some communities are open Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m. Admission is $1 per visit or $10 for the season.

Admission is the same at the three indoor pools, which are open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m.

The Patterson Park pool will be closed all summer for renovations, and the newly renovated Clifton Park pool is to open July 4.


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