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Archive for Sunday, May 24, 1998

POOL PROVIDES HEAT RELIEF

May 24, 1998

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A medical emergency marred what otherwise was an ideal opening day at the Lawrence Aquatic Center.

Hundreds of adults and children flocked to the Lawrence Aquatic Center to escape the heat on opening day Saturday, which was marked by a tense rescue in which a lifeguard resuscitated a boy.

Byron Norris, 5, Lawrence, was taken to Lawrence Memorial Hospital and transferred to Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Mo., after water went into his lungs. He was in critical but stable condition at the hospital's intensive care unit.

Bob Lockwood, manager of the aquatic center, said Norris was at the edge of the 4-foot end of the pool and apparently sucked in some water. A nearby lifeguard quickly used a breathing mask, and he was breathing again after a minute. The accident happened at 5:20 p.m., almost four hours after the center opened.

Lockwood said 1,776 people visited the pool, which will be open from 1:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. today and Monday. Temperatures almost hit 90 degrees on Saturday, but pool use tapered off during the night as temperatures dropped and a light mist fell.

A few youths didn't want to miss any prime swimming time, arriving four hours before the center opened. A line soon formed, apparently brought about by rumors of door prizes to early birds.

``We brought some bagels. We were the only ones who remembered to bring food,'' said Hannah Kern, 11, who was at the pool with her mother, two siblings, friends and neighbors.

``All the kids love it. There is a nice play area, and I can swim laps, even on a day like this, when it's busy,'' said Hannah's mother, Barbara Vernon.

``There's more to do here than just swim,'' said Caitlin Hornbeck, 12, promoting the slides, fountains and floating ``lily pads'' at the center.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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