LEBANON COUNTY — For the first time, the swimming pool at the lieutenant governor’s residence at Fort Indiantown Gap will be open to the public this summer, according to the office of Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman.
Second Lady Gisele Fetterman will oversee a water safety education program at the pool, and is accepting requests from nonprofits, summer camps, and organizations that serve groups that normally wouldn’t have access to a swimming pool to be guests at the lieutenant governor’s residence to swim, the lieutenant governor’s office said.
John Fetterman and his family don’t live at the Lebanon County property, which has a 30-by-40-foot swimming pool that has gone mostly unused.
Gisele Fetterman was moved to create a water safety program in part by statistics that show dire drowning fatality rates in some demographics, Fetterman’s office says.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 3,500 fatal water deaths in the U.S. per year. The drowning-death rate of African American children is three times higher than that of white children, Fetterman’s office says.
“We want children who visit the pool to learn life-saving skills and have a great experience,” Gisele Fetterman said in a press release. “We can have a direct role in changing those statistics. Swimming comes with a painful legacy of racial segregation. If my children can swim in that pool, so should every child in Pennsylvania.”
Groups can be from anywhere within Pennsylvania, and they must provide their own transportation and lifeguards. Limited donated funds are available to assist with lifeguard costs.
Interested group leaders can email the Second Lady at Gisele@forgoodpgh.org.
Fetterman collaborated with Tom Malecki, finance chair at Middle Atlantic Swimming, to identify needs for the swim program. Middle Atlantic Swimming, whose parent organization is USA Swimming, oversees competitive swimming in Pennsylvania, Delaware and South Jersey.
Through the organization’s Make a Splash program, children who aren’t typically exposed to pools and swimming can learn safety skills. Program coordinators can also identify potentially gifted athletes who would otherwise never be recruited for competitive swimming, including the Olympics, Malecki said.
“It’s rewarding just to help make these kids safe in the water, but if they happen to enjoy it, they might swim competitively,” he said.
Make a Splash is donating $2,500 toward Fetterman’s startup program, with the money being used to help fund lifeguards for groups unable to afford them.
The Department of General Services used inside labor to repair the pool and ready it for public use, including building an ADA-compliant ramp, patching, caulking, painting safety messages such as “No Diving” signage, purchasing pool safety supplies such as rescue floats and deep-end dividers, and building a lifeguard stand.
Two deteriorating metal diving boards were also removed, and the pool’s basin was repainted a lighter shade of blue so lifeguards can more easily see swimmers.
“The ramp and most other improvements had been planned for years, but were completed this year to accommodate the pool’s new use,” said Jason Snyder, Director of Facilities Management for the Department of General Services.
Snyder said the pool was filled with water last year but was never used, and it’s easier to maintain pools when people swim in them.
The pool includes a small picnic pavilion and a utilities house with rustic changing rooms and bathrooms.
The lieutenant governor’s residence, called the “State House,” is a three-story, 2,400 square foot stone house located along Route 934. It was built in the 1940s for the state’s adjutant general and periodically served as the sitting governor’s summer mansion prior to being turned over in 1971 to house the Lieutenant Governor.