The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 06, 2021 1:00 am

City pools open to refresh

Hot holiday weekend lures happy throngs

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Bill Vebert lives minutes away from a Florida beach, but that didn't stop the Fort Wayne native's 9- and 10-year-old daughters from wanting to take a dip Monday afternoon at Northside Pool after spotting the water slides.

Vebert couldn't argue with the children's admission price.

“I thought $3.50 was considerably reasonable,” he said, noting the swimming wrapped up a visit home that included his first TinCaps game.

Other families also couldn't resist the lure of splashing around in water on a hot and humid day. Children crowded the platform for the two slides while other swimmers jumped off the diving board and played in the water as pop music played from the speakers.

Such weather typically attracts crowds and can lead to city pools reaching capacity, which Northside Pool briefly did over the weekend, said Jenny Barney, aquatics supervisor for Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation.

“If it's hot, we're going to be busy,” Barney said on an afternoon that recorded a 94-degree heat index at the Fort Wayne International Airport.

The capacity threshold doesn't rely on a specific attendance number. Instead, Barney said, McMillen and Northside pools limit entry based on various factors, including the type of people swimming, lifeguards' ability to monitor the bottom of the pool and the level of supervision children are getting from parents.

Along with keeping swimmers safe, pool employees want swimmers to enjoy themselves, which isn't as likely when people are elbow-to-elbow, Barney said.

As the public pools prepared to open for the season June 7, the parks department was several lifeguards short of the ideal 26. Since then, Barney said, the number of lifeguards between the two pools has increased to 27.

The parks department would never open its pools if it were unable to adequately staff them, Barney said.

“We are very mindful of how many lifeguards we have,” she said.

The city's other public pool, Memorial Pool, is closed this season.

Kimberly White of Fort Wayne and her daughter Ryleigh Masterson, 13, sat in the shade at Northside Pool as their son and brother, Julian Masterson, 10, played in the water.

White hoped the afternoon at the pool would tire out the energetic boy. She also appreciated the opportunity for her son to socialize and make new friends after being cooped up because of the pandemic.

White spotted Julian near the slides, noting he favors the green one over the blue.

“That's the fastest,” she said.

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