With temperatures predicted to be more than 100 degrees for the next week, the best way to beat the heat is to take a trip to the city pool and swim in its cool and clear waters.
The city pool officially opened to the public for recreational swimming on Monday and will be open through Labor Day. The pool is only operating at 25 percent capacity this year, which is equivalent to 70 swimmers permitted into the pool at one time, and each swimmer must have their temperature taken before entering the facility.
While not every enmity at the pool is available for public use, the waters are open for lap and recreational swimming. The water slide, which is one of the most popular features at the pool, is closed to the public, as is the play equipment outside of the pool. The concession stand will also remain closed this season due to COVID-19, but patrons who visit the pool are more than welcome to bring their own food and drinks. The drinking fountains or the picnic benches aren’t available for public use this season.
“The slide has too many touch points,” said Parks and Leisure Services Director Donnie Moore. “So that’s one that will be off limits, which is a bummer. We have the mushroom and the tunnel, which have been here forever, and we have blocked those off because they have a lot of high touch points too.”
With the heat already creeping in on Monday morning, the pool had two lap swimmers who visited early for the designated lap swim times. Lap swimming is open to a capacity of 13 swimmers at a time, and the city is offering two sessions of lap swimming, The first lap swim session begins at 7:30 to 8:30 a.m., and the second lap swim session runs from at 8:30 to 9:30. Lap swim is only available Monday through Friday.
On Monday morning, the team of lifeguards were ready to get to work, and had stationed themselves strategically around the pool, anticipating the rush of swimmers ready to jump in the water. Moore said he had a team of roughly 20 lifeguards ready for this swim season, and they all underwent new training this year. With lots of disinfection to be done between swim sessions, the lifeguard team will be busy this summer.
“Our life guards have been trained in some new things through Red Cross,” said Moore. “There is a new signal for them to keep the social distancing of the public in the water.”
The city has designated five daily swim sessions times, all an hour and a half in length. Because social distancing measures must be in place, the city has suspended swim lessons this year, allowing them to open the pool for recreational swimming. There are many social distancing signs posted around the pool, reminding patrons to stay six feet apart at all times. Spaces have been marked for safe seating around the pool, and only one exit is being utilized. Those at the facility will also be required to wear face coverings when outside the pool.
“We have marked the deck so that people can keep their stuff separated in these boxes that are six feet apart,” said Moore. “We have a lot more signage in English and Spanish for social distancing.”
Monday through Friday, the first session begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 11:3. At the end of each hour-and-a-half session, patrons will be asked to clear out of the pool. Before reopening for their second session at noon, the team of lifeguards will take the 30 minute intermission to disinfect all “high touch points” around the pool, including hand rails, the diving board rails, and the restrooms. There are also two hand washing stations placed near the front of the pool for the public to use while they visit.
On weekends, the pool will operate a little differently, and will only be open for two 90-minute swim sessions. Moore said the city is leaving room for those who booked pool parties before the pandemic hit. If the party was under 70 people, they will be allowed to still host their party at the pool. On Saturday and Sunday, the pool will open to the public at 1 p.m. and will remain open for their first session until 2:30. After disinfecting all the “high touch points,” the pool will open again at 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Admission into the pool is $1 for children 12 or under, and $2 for adults. Admission is charged for each person entering into the facility, whether they’re swimming or not.
This year, the Parks and Leisure Department has implemented a new reservation system for those looking to visit the pool. Reservations can be made online at www.portervillepool.getomnify.com or by telephone at (559)791-7965.