Joe Wilson Pool will open June 29 with a limited summer schedule of lap swimming, lessons and family time in the pool.
Parks & Recreation Director Brian MacDonald said swimmers will see changes in light of social distancing rules for the COVID-19 pandemic, including limits on the number of people in the pool in Dr. Powers Park at any given time.
Swimming lessons will initially be offered to participants who had preregistered for lessons beginning June 29.
“Lessons obviously are very popular and a very critical part of our community pool because it’s a safety issue. You want people to understand how to safely swim, and there is a big push because we have a lot of waterways around town,” MacDonald said. “The concern was, hey, if you don’t open your pool, people are more likely going to go to the rivers, which are lot more dangerous.
Water aerobics, a low-impact exercise that’s popular with many older adults, will return, though people will be asked to spread out more.
Lap swimming will also look slightly different.
“You can maintain the social distancing with one lane per family,” MacDonald said. “Different households will have different lanes.”
The biggest challenge will be recreational swimming. In a normal summer, the water is often crowded with children and adults, with more people clustered on the deck
“We have to limit, because of social distancing, to probably a 10% capacity to start to see how that works,” MacDonald said. “Our pool is rated for 280 or so people within the fence, and so if you take just roughly 10% of that, it’s about 30 people at a time.”
The city plans to try out its new rules for recreational swimming as a pilot program.
“It will be a modified experience. We will offer discounted rates. We typically charge $3 for rec swim. It’s going to be less than that, because we’re probably only going to allow an hour at a time rather than the three-hour period,” MacDonald said. “That will allow us to rotate people in and out since we’re limited how many people can come in.”
City employees will monitor the pool and see how difficult it is to manage social distancing and whether they need to adjust the number of swimmers or, in the worse case, cancel recreational swimming together.
“The diving board is going to be closed. People may not like it,” MacDonald said. “I’m not sure if people will want to do it with all of the restrictions, so that’s why we wanted to do it as a pilot program.”
People will have to register for all city aquatics programs, including recreational swimming, this summer. Information will be published on the Parks & Recreation Department Facebook page starting Wednesday, including times and schedules. People can also call 831-6200 to get more information.
As usual, the pool hours will be reduced when the school year starts in August, and the pool will close at the end of September.
Unlike the pool, splash pads in parks and plazas across Tracy will remain closed throughout the summer. San Joaquin County’s health officer, Dr. Maggie Park, warned that they remain a high-risk activity. In a meeting with city recreation staff from across the county, she said the nature of splash pads was to gather people close together in a group with high levels of touch and interaction. The same is true of playground equipment.