Weather Forecast


Recreation's way of life for new pool manager

When Annie Anderson thinks back on her life, she's mostly thinking about recreation.

From the sports she played in high school to the hunting the newlywed now enjoys with her husband, Travis, Anderson's a true recreation enthusiast. And that serves her well in her new position as manager of Ellsworth's Klaas-Jonas Community Swimming Pool, succeeding Nancy Vircks.

"I went bow hunting this season and got a buck," she said Friday, suspecting she might have inherited her interest in that sport from her father, Jack Radabaugh, who teaches a bow hunting class at Ellsworth High School.

In fact, her dad also coaches sports at EHS, including wrestling and golf, so he may well have influenced her athletic tendencies overall. Another of her pursuits, teaching (she was substituting in the local school district and at Red Wing before being hired as pool manager), has ties to family, too, as her mother, Bobbie Sawyers, teaches at Lindgren Elementary School. Additionally, her older brothers, John and Grady, get credit for some direction in her educational career; she chose Mankato (Minn.) State University to seek her masters degree because they'd attended college there.

Anderson said she didn't necessarily set out to manage a swimming pool, however. The 1996 EHS graduate was originally more focused on competitive sports, a member of the high school volleyball, softball and basketball teams. Although she played point guard on the basketball team at UW-La Crosse, being a parks and recreation director was the type of future career that had occurred to her.

After all, she was majoring in recreation management and minoring in business at La Crosse, she said. Yet, among her classes there was one about taking care of pools. Perhaps her present position was inevitable.

It involves responsibility for scheduling lifeguards, ordering supplies and tracking pool usage, she said, noting personnel number around 20. The facility has hosted a special TV/Screen Turn-Off event for students, welcomes sports teams, and accommodates youth wrestling and Saturday basketball programs. It's presently featuring movie nights, and plans to conduct swimming lessons beginning next month, plus hold Water Safety Instructor classes.

"I want to promote the kinds of swimming activities people are interested in," she said.

For example, the manager said she's introducing a new arrangement suggested by pool patrons. In addition to the traditional 12-month membership, a six-month version running from the beginning of January to the end of June will be available.

"That way, we can serve those who are thinking about getting active in January," she said.

Memberships range from the simple individual version intended for open or lap swimming to the more complex offerings for the entire family, encompassing lessons and water aerobics besides open and lap swim, she said. It was her involvement in early morning water aerobics while assisting Vircks that helped familiarize her with the operation this summer.

"I filled in for her when she was gone," she said, referring to her predecessor.

Swimming--a long-time passion for Anderson--filled a good share of her time during the years between college at La Crosse and Mankato. After she graduated from the former in 2001, she headed to Santa Barbara, Calif., to work for a university-sponsored summer program.

"They brought in high school kids from all over," she said, explaining she guided up to a couple hundred of the youths in swimming, working out, and spending time in the ocean and on the beach. She also organized basketball, badminton, golf and other tournaments for them.

Next, she moved to Hawaii with a friend from college "on a whim," she said. She initially landed a job with the City of Honolulu and surrounding county as a lifeguard and water aerobics instructor. Later, she was employed as aquatics director and assistant youth director at the Honolulu Y.

"We planned on spending a year out there and ended up staying for three," she said.

Reluctant to return home, Anderson nonetheless realized she couldn't get the schooling she wanted in Hawaii. She headed to Mankato for a masters degree in sports administration, writing her thesis on participation fees for athletes and their participation rates.

"Ellsworth was one of the schools I worked with," she said of gaining material for the effort.

While she finished the bulk of her masters work a year ago, she must still present her thesis this coming spring, she said. She'll then have her certificate, a commodity without which she's found it difficult to pursue her dreams.

"I'd like to be an athletic director," she said, envisioning such duty at a high school.

Meantime, she's already been back to Hawaii on her honeymoon, showing her spouse around a state he'd never visited, she said. The temperature only dropped as low as 68 degrees one time when she was there before--perfect for swimming.