If you want to go swimming in Saratoga Springs this weekend, you’d better get there early and be patient.
The Victoria Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for a season preview. It will close next week, then open for the season June 23. With a capacity of 350, the pool is known for long lines almost as much as for picturesque columns and arches.
This year is the second straight that Saratoga Spa State Park officials have opened Victoria Pool for an extra weekend before its official opening, once schools let out for the summer. Peerless Pool also opens June 23.
Things were in place to open a little early again this year, said park manager Mike Greenslade.
“We have the [life]guards; we have the weather forecast,” he said. “This weekend is supposed to be beautiful.”
The National Weather Service in Albany agrees, predicting Saturday’s high at 81 degrees under sunny skies and Sunday’s high at 83 with mostly sunny skies.
With weather like that, Greenslade predicts the pool will hit capacity by noon, after which people have to wait for others to leave before they can join the crowd of swimmers.
John Rudd, manager of Catherine’s in the Park, is gearing up for a busy weekend, too.
The restaurant serves the pool and the state park’s golf course, offering pool patrons drinks and food outside on the terrace.
“With the golf course and the Victoria Pool, it’s going to be pretty busy,” Rudd said.
He knows people have been itching to take a dip.
“They want to go to the pool and the pool hasn’t been open,” he said. “If it’s going to be sunny and 80, it’s going to be packed all day.”
Business at the restaurant has been steady since it opened in mid-March along with the golf course, a month earlier than the usual April 15 opening, Rudd said.
A busy weekend at the pool can help out the state’s coffers, too — last year’s first weekend at Victoria Pool brought in just shy of $2,000 in receipts, Greenslade said.
The watchdog group Save the Victoria Pool Society often pushes for an earlier opening date, but park officials say staffing issues keep them from opening earlier. Most of the lifeguards are in high school or college, so the state park must wait until they get out of school.
Greenslade said most of the staffers at the Victoria Pool are college-age or recent college graduates, so they are available this weekend, whereas the high-schoolers who staff Peerless can’t start work until the following weekend.
“It’s a lot more labor-intensive, that one, and requires a lot more people,” he said of the Peerless Pool. “We just don’t have the bodies, basically.”
The Victoria Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and then every day at the same times starting June 23. The admission cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children.
Starting June 23, Peerless Pool will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. six days a week. It is closed Tuesdays. To get to the Peerless Pool, people must first pay $8 per car to get into that area of the state park. Admission is then $2 for adults and $1 for children.
At both pools, children younger than 5 enter for free and senior citizens living in New York get in at the children’s price on non-holiday weekdays.