LAKE WYLIE -- York County should never, ever lag behind Mecklenburg County, the behemoth to the north. That is a county where the people voted not to build a huge downtown arena, then politicians built it anyway. They used the money of everybody else.
Many there also root for the corporate Tar Heels in basketball instead of upstarts Winthrop or Davidson. Truly no shame.
But now, in the deep heat of another summer, Mecklenburg County is considering allowing swimming at its public parks.
We, in York County, have no plan for any increased public swimming access. Yet, the county's figures show that almost twice as many people used the only public access swimming area last year as did four years ago. And this summer could be even higher.
Never miss a local story.
Yes, York County, the fastest-growing county in the state of South Carolina, approaching a quarter-million people, a place that markets itself as having terrific schools and lower taxes than Mecklenburg, could have a few dozen people line up shoulder-to-shoulder and take up the whole public swimming hole.
About 100 yards at Ebenezer Park is the only place for somebody without a boat, or a pool, to get wet. That is on hundreds of miles of shoreline.
The length of a football field.
And it even costs $3 for York County people to do that. That's the charge to get in, Ebenezer Park Ranger Robert Thomas said.
Is there any doubt this lack of access is about money and class when development means the rich have lake access and the rest of us are left with the dregs?
This brutally limited access has been the same for years. I often rail about this ridiculous situation -- even purposefully getting parking tickets from the city of Tega Cay in successive years at their city-owned parking lots that have access to Lake Wylie.
One great lady called me right before Memorial Day weekend, when I normally rail about this water class warfare. She offered me and my family the use of her home, dock and even water toys on the lake.
"Bring the kids, use the bathrooms, all of it," that wonderful lady told me.
I didn't take her up on the offer.
I shouldn't have to.
And neither should you.
Those Mecklenburg parks that might add swimming next year -- government moves with the swiftness of a melting glacier -- include access to Lake Wylie, which shares a border with us in York County.
There have been talks about adding more recreation opportunities for kayaking and canoeing and boating access, said Anna Wilson, York County assistant manager. But for swimming, there hasn't been any specific proposal from the people you expect to look out for you: local and state politicians.
Some increased access along Lake Wylie's Allison Creek for camping and boating is part of negotiations between York County and Duke Energy for Duke's relicensing application, Wilson said. Duke owns the lakefront properties that have boat access now, Wilson said.
"But that is several years down the pike," she said.
So even the kayakers, those hardy types who love the public water yet refuse to touch it, I guess, have the ear of politicians. The lovers of public lands are worried that the Catawba River, from which the lake flows into and out of, will be developed. They want no Dave Lyle Boulevard to reach the river. It might ruin nature. They want it left alone.
The truly boorish like me, no boat, no lakefront property, no expensive kayak from which I can lecture the public about nature's bounty, we splash in the water at Ebenezer Park's tiny swimming area. We make noise. We laugh.
And get this: Ebenezer Park isn't even York County property. It is leased to the county by Duke, Wilson said.
Monday's high temperature approached 100 degrees. Today is supposed to be just as hot. If the relative few yards of public swimming access in York County is too packed for your taste, take a garden hose and spray yourself.
Dream you have an expensive kayak and a wave of Lake Wylie water has just splashed your face.
Then get a ticket for violating the drought restrictions on water use.
The number of people using York County's only public access swimming area is growing. Here are the number of people who paid to enter Ebenezer Park since 2003, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
2003 -- 11,420
2004 -- 10,801
2005 -- 15,057
2006 -- 15,544
2007 -- 20,542
2008 -- 15,507 (through July 20)
Source: York County