[image-1] County officials hope that an upcoming public pool project in Hollywood will help lower drowning rural and child drowning statistics, even though it’s named after a teen who drowned in the town in 2014.
The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission broke ground on the West County Aquatic Center on Wed. Aug. 29, according to a press release. The $3 million complex will include a 25-yard long outdoor pool with a capacity of 128 people.
The pool will be named after Genesis Holmes, a 13-year-old Hollywood resident who drowned in a pond while swimming with a friend in 2014.
It would be the first public pool in the Hollywood area.
“Drowning is a real problem in the rural communities of Charleston County, and access to public pools in these areas is mostly nonexistent,” said Parks and Rec Executive Director David Bennett in a statement. “Bringing swimming instruction directly to these areas is a big step towards preventing drowning.”
According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning, and two of those 10 are aged 14 or younger.
A continuing legacy of segregation, especially in the South, means that a lack of access to public swimming spaces translates to actual danger for minority children. The USA Swimming Foundation estimates that about 40 percent of white children have “no or low swimming ability,” compared to 64 percent of African-American children and 45 percent of Hispanic/Latino children.
The CDC also estimates that “African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites.”
The town of Hollywood is about 42 percent black, according to 2016 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. As a whole, Charleston County’s population is 28.2 percent African-American.
The complex is set to open this coming spring near the Hollywood Town Center off Highway 165.