Spoiled swimmers


"In the Pool'', by JANIS WISNIEWSKI, at Lexington Arts (Mass.) and Crafts Society.

It's now time for New England's brief outdoor swimming-pool season. Especially along the coasts, swimming pools were rare in the region until just a few decades ago. The idea was that it was more character-building and physically healthier to swim in the sea, and that pools were both too showy and too expensive for "prudent'' New Englanders. ("Prudent'' is a favorite and much parodied word used by George H.W. Bush, originally from Greenwich, Conn.)

But unfortunately, other than on  the south-facing costs of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where the prevailing southwest wind pushes warm surface water toward the coast, and eddies of the Gulf Stream sometimes make an appearance, the coastal waters of New England are painfully cold for swimming. The Labrador Current rules.

When I was a kid, there were only two swimming pools in the coastal town (Cohasset, Mass.) we lived in. They were owned by two sisters who owned most of the stock of Dow Jones & Co. People tried to be very nice to them to get invitations.

But the influx of new money since about 1980 from the likes of Fidelity fund managers and biotech moguls had led to a proliferation of swimming pools in the town such that parts now look like Beverly Hills. Of course, the season is short for outdoor p00ls around here, even those with very powerful heaters. So some of these folks (as in the Hamptons) put in indoor ones, too, in their Gilded Age II mansions.