The swimming pool is a symbol of a luxurious and sun-soaked Southern California lifestyle, also known for its palm trees and chaise lounges. But more often than not the pool a family-oriented place where parents, kids and friends can meet and interact.
Chris and Krista Windisch of Agoura Hills wanted to build a backyard swimming pool for more personal reasons. Chris Windisch is paralyzed from the neck down, and the couple thought a pool would be a good way for him to spend time with their two teenage daughters.
“Our daughters’ friends all have pools, and it’s hard for Chris to go places,” Krista Windisch said. “He’d say, ‘where are the girls?’ and I’d tell him they’re swimming at a friend’s house. I just knew for him to be able to watch them in his own backyard, to have their friends over to our house, he would love it.”
He and his wife also wanted a pool to use for aquatic therapy.
Chris Windisch is a retired pilot who flew F-18s for the Marine Corps. His condition resulted from his service in the early 2000s, when he was based in Kuwait. What started as a limp progressed to leg paralysis, and by 2008 the former major was fully incapacitated.
“(The pool) is a form of medication and an ability to let go and allow your body to become weightless,” Krista Windisch said. “The psychological benefits are just as powerful as the physical benefits of not having constant pressure points on your body. Chris’ hands and feet are so contracted, it’s hard to stretch them without him getting spastic. The water is a very gentle way to do stretching and allow someone’s limbs to move.”
But getting a pool installed is expensive. The Windisches met with several companies but the projected costs were always too high. Then they met Brandon Anderson.
Anderson is the founder and president of Clearflo Pools, a Moorpark-based pool installation company. He was referred to the family earlier this year by their neighbor, whom he was working for at the time.
After meeting the Windisches, Anderson decided to install a pool without charging for his services, which made it affordable for the family.
“I hear a lot of sob stories from people trying to get a discount, but (Krista) wasn’t giving me one. I met (Chris) and he’s the nicest guy. It’s awful to be in a situation like that and have two kids. I knew it was going to help him to use the pool. Their daughters will be home with him, he can be active in their lives, float around and play with them. That’s why I did it,” Anderson said.
Chris Windisch designed the pool, with some input from Anderson. Once the family got permits from the city and approval from their homeowners association, they were set.
The project took about seven weeks to complete. Anderson threw in a few goodies as well— he set the family up with an app that Chris Windisch can operate to control the lights and the temperature of the pool, and installed color-changing lights as well.
The family used the pool for the first time July 31.
Krista Windisch said she and her husband are searching for a lift that will allow him to get in and out of the pool. They hope to open it up to others who could benefit from aquatic therapy.
“We just wanted to see if we could do something for vets in the area, if possible,” Chris Windisch said. “I don’t know (how many are in the area), but veterans are a slice of America, and they’re everywhere. They’re our waiters or waitresses and everything else.”