Grace West gives Ocracoke Island kids swimming lessons at an island motel pool in 1996. Photo courtesy of Grace West

By TL Grace West

Ruth Toth remembers childhood summers swimming in Silver Lake while visiting with her grandparents on Ocracoke. 

She shared these memories at the first meeting of the Ocracoke Community Pool Association (OCPA) in January and also talked about her mom’s last 40 years of life being enhanced by access to water aerobics in a swimming pool. 

Hers were among the stories members of the steering committee shared about learning to swim and the benefits of having access to a swimming pool, an idea the Ocracoke Community Pool Association wants to see become a reality for the island.

If you ask anyone — fishermen and women, parents, kids, lap swimmers, swim teachers, elders, people with arthritis, or folks recovering from an injury or surgery (especially for knees and hips) —  about the benefits of having a community pool on the island you will hear lots of positive comments.

It is the vision of the OCPA to provide a community pool for exercise, recreation, rehabilitation, and, most importantly, water safety.

Almost every year the tragic story of someone drowning in the ocean in rip currents is a part of island life. What if a community pool could provide swim lessons to every school age child and lifeguard training? These are goals that the OCPA strongly embraces.

A community pool is a huge project and will require community involvement, and the OCPA needs your ideas and resources.

The top priority is to obtain land. A 20,000-square-foot lot would be ideal, but a 10,000-square-foot lot would be a minimal size.

The size of land will, in part, determine the size of the pool.

The ideal pool would be enclosed for year-round use, although an enclosure might be phase two in this project.

The land subcommittee is headed by BJ Oelschlegel, who welcomes your input.

Under the direction of Deborah and Charlie Ralston, the funding subcommittee has obtained NC corporation status and next is applying for federal nonprofit status.  

If you have experience or information to share about the development, engineering and research needs for a community pool, this subcommittee is being led by Toth and Melissa DiMarsico, Ocracoke School physical ed teacher, who also is exploring funding sources.

Toth also heads the publicity committee and seeks help for this from the Ocracoke community.

Contact information:; or PO Box 1371, Ocracoke, 27960.

All input is desired and welcome. 

Grace West teaches water aerobics, among other classes, and with Ruth Toth is spearheading the community pool effort.

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  1. What a tremendous good the community pool would be for Ocracoke Island, both for locals and visitors alike. Particularly, this could be a great benefit for youth when they are first learning to swim and the ocean proves intimidating. And also as a source of additional recreation and a positive place for people to congregate. Overall a tremendous benefit to a small community!

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