The YWCA’s public pool has struggled with attendance this year amid cooler temperatures and frequent thunderstorms.
The agency cut back on hours at the Front Street pool last year, closing it on Sundays. It was a financial decision, but one also based on poor attendance that day, said YWCA Executive Director Rowie Taylor.
Attendance continues to be a problem this year.
“This summer’s been tough,” she said. “Pools are so weather-dependent. We’ve had to close a lot of afternoons because of thunder-and-lightning storms.”
And it’s been cooler.
“We’ve had pretty decent nights for sleeping. That doesn’t translate to keeping the pool temperature warm,” she said.
Admission to the YWCA pool is $1.50 per child, while the city’s other three public pools, at Hillhurst, Quackenbush and Central parks, are free. Officials say attendance at the free pools has largely been unchanged, despite the weather.
Children said they didn’t notice the cold.
“When you stay at the pool, you feel hot, and then you jump in. It feels nice and cold,” said Shariya Perry-Turner, 8, who shivered in her towel as she insisted she wasn’t cold.
Quackenbush head lifeguard Kaleb Fitzmaurice said attendance has stayed steady all summer.
“It has been a little bit chillier,” he said, “but [the pool] is warmer than the air is. It’s not bad. I jumped in today.”
A lifeguard watched with a towel wrapped around her, and parents said it was too cold for them to dip more than a toe in, but children played happily.
At the Central Park pool, monitor Christine Love said the average number of swimmers per day is as high or higher than last year. They’re getting about 100 swimmers a day, she said.
And at Hillhurst, head lifeguard Ethan Dobson said he thinks attendance will end up being higher than last year.
“We’ve had quite a few busy days,” he said, adding that the smaller pool attracts many regulars. “We’ve gotten to know a lot of the people. We know them by name, which helps with discipline.”
But a drop-off in attendance on Sundays would come as no surprise. Of all the city pools, only Central Park is open Sundays. Hillhurst is closed all weekend.
At the Front Street pool, Taylor said it comes down to money. They have to pay the lifeguards, whether there’s two kids or 50 in the water, she said.
“We’re trying to stretch the money out and stay open as long as possible,” she said. “You have to look at the cost benefit.”