Two Local Families Share How They Make the Most of Owning a Backyard Pool

Living in Woodbury offers many convenient amenities. For these two local families, having their own backyard pool is the big splash. While it is a short swimming season, both the Stephens and Galvin families agree that the pool investment has returned its value in many quality family memories.

For Woodbury’s mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens and her husband Greg, the decision to own a pool began with taking advantage of a family discount while they were building their home in 1985. “My husband’s niece was in the pool business at the time,” Mary says. Greg and Mary raised their son and daughter in the home, and are still using the pool as a way to bring family together after 30 years.

“Because we only get three months, we are always excited to open the pool in the spring,” Mary says. “We like to call it our spontaneous fun. We like to just invite family and friends over and throw something on the grill.”

“The best thing about our pool is having it be the new living room for the family in the summertime,” says son David.

Over the years, the family pool has played host to various sports team events, class parties, birthdays and dinner parties, and has been the home court for some competitive water sports. “We have had some pretty intense water volleyball games,” says daughter Jane Kramer.

“We are pretty competitive,” Mary says. “Even my 89-year-old dad still gets in the pool. I love that it brings us all together in a fun and healthy way.”

Now empty nesters, rather than downsizing, the Stephenses have decided to do some remodeling and will be enhancing the outdoor living area as their family continues to grow with in-laws and grandchildren. “We don’t own a cabin,” Mary says, “so our kids and grandkids who live in Woodbury come over. Having a pool has been one of the best investments.”

The pool has also become a special place for the newest generation. “Ellie and Shaw love swimming in Papa and G’s pool and inviting their friends over to swim,” Jane says.

“Growing up, it was nice to be able to be out there with all my cousins and uncles; now that I’m older, it’s nice to be out there with my niece and nephew,” David says.

connie and Chris Galvin bought their Woodbury home in 2009. With a busy life and three children, the couple did not see having a cabin as the ideal option for their family.

“This is our staycation,” Connie says. “Instead of loading up a car and dealing with traffic after a long day at work, we throw our trunks on and dive in.”

The Galvins open their pool in mid-May, weather permitting. Their friends and neighbors look forward to the text that says, “The pool is open!” Chris and Connie have three children: Marquesa (15), Lauren (13) and Aidan (8). “The girls are close in age and have each other to play with, and sometimes Aidan is left out. But the pool is the great equalizer; everyone is out there having fun,” Connie says.

The family enjoys playing games and inviting friends and family over. “We’re very family oriented,” Connie says. “We have our extended family over and we like having a place where the kids want to hang out. It’s also a great mechanism for kids and adults to interact.”

With teenage daughters, Connie explains that the pool also gives her daughters and their friends some supervised space to hang out. The girls are on volleyball teams, and the teams use the pool as a way to get together in the off-season.

“With kids, we do have to be diligent about pool safety,” Connie says. The Galvins enforce standard, common sense pool rules.

The Galvins’ pool has both a diving board and slide, so kids enjoy games such as battleship and shark attack, two versions of water tag, as well as diving contests. But the pool is not all about the kids. “Even the adult men do some tricks on the diving board,” Connie says. And at the end of the season each year, Chris and Connie celebrate Chris’ birthday with a pool party just for the adults.

Eco-friendly Pool Practices

Minimize or eliminate chlorine

Chlorine in pools can be an irritant to skin as well as the environment. Both the Stephenses and the Galvins use alternative filter systems with little to no chlorine. Systems can use salt water or ozone and UV to eliminate bacteria and algae. There are also natural pool options that use plants like moss to filter the water.

Watch your water
Water conservation is an important topic these days, and pool owners should use water responsibly. Proper covers and landscaping can help evaporation, and pool owners can use rainwater collectors to top the pool. “We also don’t empty the pool at the end of the season,” Mary Guiliani Stephens says.

Energy efficient
Choosing energy efficient or solar pumps and heaters is important to reduce impact. Good habits like using a pool cover and turning heaters down or off when not in use, keeping the pool clean manually and using an electric pump during off-peak hours can go a long way.