Now that it’s summertime, people are ready to head out to their local pool.
With COVID-19 on everyone’s mind, that wasn’t going to happen in the same way as in years past, but by Monday, the Joe Wilson Pool in Tracy was ready for the public.
The city of Tracy opened the pool for the summer with the idea that lifeguards and swimmers now must be especially mindful of how they protect each other during a pandemic.
Even with all of the new rules — limits on the number of people who can be in the pool at one time, and reservations required for all pool users — Joe Wilson Pool is as popular as ever. Justin Geibig, the city’s recreation coordinator for the pool, said people started calling in as soon as the city announced its opening day.
“Our phones have been ringing heavily right now,” he said. “We have staff right now answering those phones for those reservations. The press release went out last week, so I think the word is just getting out to the community.”
His staff is taking reservations up to seven days in advance as those who call discover that open spots fill up quickly.
“Our water exercise class this morning was at capacity. Swim lessons right now, registration has been open since December, so we’re honoring all of our participants who have already preregistered,” he said, adding that anyone who wanted to sign up for swim lessons now would be put on a wait list.
For recreational swimming in the afternoon, there’s a limit of 20 swimmers per hour.
That means people can sign up for their hour, and in between hourlong sessions, the pool staff members — all wearing masks and gloves — go around the entire pool deck and sanitize the railings, chairs and tables to prepare for the next group of up to 20.
Lindsay Crisoftomo had a corner of the pool all to herself and her two children, ages 5 and 7, and said it was worth the wait and the effort to sign up in advance.
“We’ve been looking for things to do all summer,” she said. “It’s nice that the community provided something for us. I know they’re doing their best. It’s just nice to have something to do even if it’s only for an hour, just to get out of the house.”
Other groups had their own corners of the pool, while some folks swam laps, staying a lane away from others. Geibig said that other activities had worked out well so far with social distancing guidelines, including swim lessons for children.
“We have to take in some modifications in swim lessons for our staff,” he said. “We’re teaching from the pool deck, and parents are required to get in the pool with their children for swim lessons, just to enforce the social distancing.”
The opening of outdoor pools in the county is part of the state’s Stage 3 reopening as of June 11. Stage 4, a full reopening, will happen only after COVID-19 infections are reduced again.