BOWLING GREEN—It my have happened a bit later than planned, but Bowling Green’s pool opened during a beautiful day Friday.
Katelyn Watts, pool manager and lifeguard, said people had already lined up before the pool’s noon opening time.
“We had to open a little early,” she said, because they needed to take everyone’s temperature before they entered the facility. Peals of laughter could be heard as youngsters jumped in the cool water.
“We’ve had a really good turnout,” Watts added. She’s been lifeguarding for the past five years. She knew that there had been a possibility that the pool would not have opened, and that was even before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The City Council had decided not to renew its management contract with a company from out of the area. But Watts said she was glad that it did open.
Local resident, Rebecca Grummel, came forward and volunteered to oversee pool operations. That set the wheels in motion for the city to get the pool ready in case restrictions because of COVID-19 were lifted. Gov. Mike Parson had initiated a phase opening of the state last month, and the word came down, said City Administrator Linda Luebrecht, that pools could open if they followed Health Department guidelines.
Grummel reported at the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday that the pool’s opening week was a success.
There were 97 patrons the first day, 65 on Saturday and between 35 and 40 on Sunday.
She noted that people really appreciated that pool being open.
In addition to taking patron’s temperatures, the pool’s snack bar would only serve bottled water, and all the lounge chairs would be kept in storage. People were asked to bring their own chairs and were allowed to bring in personal coolers for refreshments. No alcohol is allowed in the pool or glass containers.
Grummel said that the people showed up with coolers packed with picnic style meals like they were going to the beach.
“They seemed to appreciate that,” she added.
Watts said most of the people had come prepared with their own chairs. She noted that with limited staff, it would have been difficult to keep track and to try and wipe down the chairs after each person or group left the pool area.
“It’s better that they brought their own,” she said, and without the chairs, it opens the space up where people can sit.
Watts said her lifeguards were keeping track of the number of people in the pool area.
They are hoping to do some activities for the children over the summer, she said. It depends on the next phase of the state’s opening plan whether or not they would be able to offer swimming lessons this summer.
“And possibly other events, too,” Watts said, “like late-night family swims and having mothers able to come in an hour early with their children” to swim before the bigger crowds arrived. She said there are a lot of ideas to enhance the pool experience that were suggested, such as eventually creating a swimming team.
Watts, who is from Louisiana, said she was told by some of folks she met here that they had had a swim team in Bowling Green at one time and would like to see one again. She remembers Louisiana having a team at one time. The Twin Pike Family YMCA has a swim team, she added. And she used to lifeguard there, as well.
Some people stayed in the shade while others enjoyed the bright sunshine and every small head bobbing above the waterline had a smile on it.
Grummel said they are keeping all the sign-in sheets in case a coronavirus case pops up. That way they can see who was at the pool at about the same time.