After a year off, the public will finally be able to swim at Schenectady High School again.
The YMCA will begin running the pool Monday. For now, the public will be allowed to swim only in the early morning and in the evening, while students use the pool during the day for swimming lessons and team practices. The public can also swim for four hours on weekends.
“I know the window is a little tight,” said YMCA Executive Director Lou Magliocca.
But he must make sure there’s enough time set aside for student use — and that he’s not left paying for lifeguards to stare at an empty pool for hours.
His goal, he said bluntly, is to just break even. If things go well, he’ll add swimming lessons, lifeguard courses and aquatics classes.
But right now, no one is quite sure if the YMCA will bring in enough money to pay the operating expenses for just five hours of public swimming every day. The school district couldn’t find a way.
“That is always the challenge,” said city schools Superintendent John Yagielski. “We weren’t able to operate it [without losing money.] We signed a one-year lease to see how it all works out. I hope it works out.”
YMCA members will get to use the pool for free. Everyone else will have to buy a monthly pass, which will cost slightly less than a full YMCA membership. Youths under age 19 will pay $15; adults will pay $25. A family pass is $40. By comparison, the youth YMCA membership is $16 a month, adults are $39 and families are $48 to $60.
There is no pool at the new YMCA, but many residents joined anyway because of the state-of-the-art fitness equipment and the new location in the heart of downtown. Still, Magliocca said many of his members told him they wanted a pool. Then he found out that the school district has stopped public swimming at its pool because it was too expensive and couldn’t be justified after the budget was voted down in 2010.
“People wanted to swim at the pool. I thought it was a natural fit for us,” he said.
Passes can be purchased at the Schenectady YMCA, 433 State St. The pool will be open Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. Weekend hours have not yet been announced.
Magliocca is hoping the program proves popular.
“I’m excited, but guarded,” he said.
As YMCA Director of Marketing Erin Breslin put it, “What we want to avoid at all cost is opening it up and not being able to keep it open.”
But she’s optimistic.
“It’s what we do,” she said. “We operate pools.”