Pools Impose Capacity Restrictions and Reservation-only Policy
~ by Trevor Phipps ~
The Woodland Aquatic Center is back in nearly full swimming action, but it’s definitely not operating in a business as usual manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of a slew of new safety standards.
After being closed for three months, the Aquatic Center is now open with restrictions on how many people can use the pools at one time.
The aquatic center is open for water fitness, lap swimming and open swim times by reservation only, and the center staff plans to offer more classes in the near future.
According to Woodland Park’s Park and Recreation Director Cindy Keating, during the center’s closure period, staff members worked diligently towards preparing the facility for when they could reopen. “We are following all the orders and we worked closely the state and national associations to find out what other places are doing instead of trying to do it all ourselves,” Keating said. “So, we were ready to open as soon as the governor gave the order saying we could.”
Keating said that the one major task to get the pools completely open involved refilling them and heating them back up since they were drained while the aquatic center was closed. The center’s staff also had to place markings on the floor to establish proper social distancing protocols, and single direction lanes of traffic. All of the doors to and from the pools remained open to reduce high touch areas, and there is a designated entrance and exit to and from the facility.
The aquatic center has also had to implement new protocols with the sanitization of high touch areas. Swimmers can reserve hour and a half time slots, and then in between each set of reservations, the aquatic center’s staff is tasked with cleaning and sanitizing the pool area and locker rooms.
According to Aquatic Manager Ryan Squires, the aquatic center’s team has about 10 minutes in between each group to conduct the extensive cleaning. “When we get people out, we literally do a head to toe cleaning,” Squires said. “We start with the pool deck. We do all of the ladder handles and anything that people use going into the pool. Then we hit all of the door handles the fronts, backs and sides and anything that anybody is going to touch. Then, we hit our locker rooms and do a full clean from the showers all the way to the toilets. Everything gets wiped down. We have about nine and a half minutes to get people in and out and get everything clean but it is working and it’s going really well. Anything that potentially somebody could touch we wipe down.”
Squires said that they use a basic green sanitizer product for all of the sanitization efforts. He said that since the chemical products the aquatic center was already using met the recommended health standards, they did not have to purchase any new chemicals.
Local Residents Revel Over Pools’ Reopening
Once the pools reopened on June 15, many residents expressed extreme elation to see the facility open its doors back up. In fact, the aquatic center received more than 150 reservations within the first 24 hours of being open. “People said, ‘Thank you so much for being open,’” Keating said. “And we told them, ‘thank you for being here we couldn’t be open without you.’”
The aquatic manager said that on the day the pool reopened, he could see the excitement on people’s faces. “The first day when we opened on the 15th (of June), the excitement on people’s faces was just incredible,” Squires said. “Some people started crying when they came in and said, ‘I haven’t seen this place in three months and I need it so bad for my body, it keeps me upright.’ So, to see them walk into this facility and have that reaction was just amazing.”
Squires also said that many people have recently came and visited the aquatic center for the first time. He said that he has seen many people driving up the mountain from Colorado Springs to go swimming because most of the pools in the Springs are not yet open.
Currently the aquatic center offers lap swimming times Monday through Saturday and water fitness times Monday through Thursday and people can register online at https://secure.rec1.com/CO/woodland-park-co/catalog. The open swim times take place on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday and people must call the aquatic center at (719) 687-5233 to make an open swim reservation.