City Pool to open June 7, operate on limited schedule
After sitting idle throughout 2020, City Pool will once again be filled with the sounds of splashing and fun this summer.
City Pool manager Sylvia Gurtowski announced this week that the facility will open for the summer on June 7 and operate on a limited schedule through August. Capacity will be limited to 35 people at any given time.
Gurtowski said there were several reasons for the reduced capacity, including the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Mask mandates have been lifted in Vicksburg and in Mississippi, but some CDC guidelines are still in place encouraging social distancing and mask use.
“I would like to take this summer to see how people react to the vaccines and watch the numbers continue to go down,” Gurtowski said. “There’s no way I can ask people to wear masks in here when it’s so hot, or expect children to space out from each other.”
The schedule for the summer is divided into different periods for different types of swimmers:
• City Pool will be open to the public on Monday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, in a pair of two-hour blocks that run from 1 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. The facility will be cleared between each block.
Reservations are not required, but the occupancy limit will be enforced.
The daily access fee has been reduced to $2 per person. A season pass is available for $40 for individuals, or $60 for a family pass for as many as five people.
• Tuesday and Thursday afternoons will be reserved for the Vicksburg Swim Association’s practice sessions.
• Wednesday afternoon is “Daycare Day.” Daycares are invited to bring children during two blocks, from 1 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling City Pool at 601-634-4516.
• The pool will be open to lap swimmers only from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Another lap swim session is open from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
• City Pool will be closed on Sundays.
While concerns about COVID have lessened in recent months, City Pool is still dealing with an ongoing lifeguard shortage that is causing headaches. City Pool lifeguards are required to pass an American Red Cross certification class to work there, and Gurtowski said only a handful of people in Vicksburg did so this year.
Ideally, she said she would hire 25 lifeguards each summer. This year she has four. The lack of lifeguards was the primary reason for the reduced 2021 hours, and will also cause some sections of the pool to be closed during operating hours.
“It is a beautiful pool, but it is a very large pool. It takes nine guards per shift to guard this pool and we have four,” Gurtowski said. “We’ll have the baby pool and the shallow end open. The deep end will be closed at first.”
Gurtowski encouraged interested people to get certified, but added that hiring more lifeguards is not as simple as putting out a help wanted ad. She said a number of lifeguard candidates washed out of the Red Cross class because they couldn’t swim well enough to pass the initial physical endurance tests.
“People just need to look for the classes and sign up — and practice swimming. We lose a lot of candidates because they can’t pass the prerequisites,” she said.
The lack of lifeguards also led Gurtowski to cancel the popular “Learn to Swim” program for this year. The program provides low-cost swim lessons for children and adults, but between the CDC guidelines and lack of manpower Gurtowski said it was simply not feasible this summer.
“You can’t teach swim lessons without being close to someone. So we relucatantly had to say ‘not this year,’ and are looking forward to having lessons next year,” she said.
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