Icy reception Only a few brave opening day at pool

By on May 30, 2013


LAURA KNOWLES Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Madison Kimmel, 8, was all smiles despite being in water estimated to be less than 60 degrees on opening day. (Photo by Laura Knowles)

They showed up just after noon on Saturday and were the first ones into the chilly waters of the Ephrata Community Pool this season.

In fact, it was more like a polar bear swim in the middle of January than a typical dip on a warm May day. Nathan (10), and Madison (8) Kimmel just jumped right in and made history for the opening day of the 2013 season on May 25.

Cindy Drob, aquatics director and pool manager, wasn’t sure just how cold the water was. She estimated it could be as cool as the air, which was just 54 degree in the sun. Most people were dressed in jackets, sweatshirts and long pants.

Not Nathan and Madison. They arrived in swimsuits – Nathan in swim trunks and Madison in a dark one-piece racer back suit. They didn’t even hesitate before they jumped into the pool. But they were out almost as quickly as they got in.

"It’s very cold," said Madison, in a clear understatement.

She was shivering with chattering teeth as someone wrapped a towel around her. A few minutes later, she was back in the water and climbing the blue and green climbing wall at the deep end of the pool.

Jim Summers, executive director of the Ephrata Rec Center, was on hand for opening day, as staff cleaned and polished the pool for the 2013 weekend opening. It was the coldest day he could remember for a pool opening.

"Last year, which was the opening of the newly renovated pool, it was packed and temperatures were in the 80s," said Summers. "We’re hoping it will warm up for Sunday and Monday."

Summers was hoping for just that -summer. He reported that last year was a successful season for the Ephrata Community Pool, which had undergone a complete $2 million facelift.

"I think the slide and the climbing walls were the most popular. The kids just love that," said Summers.

New lounge chairs throughout the grounds, a volleyball court and a newly updated snack bar were other added bonuses for pool members and guests.

"The pool is just brighter and more exciting," said Drob, noting that the young children had a great time with the water features at the kiddy end of the pool.

That includes a zero-depth entry tot pool that functions like a sloping beach. There are no ladders to climb or steps. Kids can just walk right in, providing easy access to everyone of all ages and abilities. Even seniors, people with disabilities and those who prefer to not jump into the pool can get in the pool at the "beach" area and swim to deeper waters, if they want.

The water features in the tot pool include a shower tower, aqua hoop and otter slide. Right next to the tot pool is the intermediate pool, aimed for kids 4-7. It also has a zero-depth entry and a water access chair. Water features include a drop jet, rain drop and storm spinner.

Older kids have a variety of activities to keep them happy. Flume slides are 7 feet high with a dual action red drop slide and a yellow tube slide. Supervisors on duty control the use of this slide. Then there is the giant blue drop slide which is 17 1/2 feet high with a tube slide that winds and drops into the water below.

As Drob noted, safety is a key factor. All slides are restricted to those who are at least 48 inches tall and have passed the deep water swim test. The same applies to the climbing walls at the deep end of the pool. The intermediate climbing wall is 2 meters high and the advanced wall is 3 meters high with a textured non-slip design that tilts over the water at a slight angle.

The four pools at the higher level of the community pool grounds are all joined together, while there is a other competition and lap pool at the lower level. The 6-lane, 25-meter competition pool has water depths from 4-5 feet and is fully equipped with Kiefer anti-turbulent lanes, KDI Paragon starting blocks, and a fully automatic Colorado timing system.

Children ages 12-and-under must pass the deep water test to use the pool and its features without an adult. Otherwise, adults must be with children in the 4-foot area of pool at all times. There are also lap swimming and adults-only swimming times scheduled during the day.

"The pool grounds are ADA accessible," added Drob, noting that there are lifts for persons with disabilities stationed at the edge of each pool and a water access chair for persons with disabilities located in the pool house lobby.

The restrooms have been fully remodeled and include accessible restrooms with chair rails.

For the 2013 season, the pool has hired more than 50 employees, mostly young people looking forward to summer jobs as lifeguards, office staff, maintenance and snack bar workers.

For teens Lily Brown, David Glick and Andrew Jones, it is another season serving up Lily’s On Main snack bar food at the pool. Sure, there are hot dogs, burgers, nachos, fries and ice cream. But there are also Philly cheesesteak spring rolls, chicken Waldorf salad wraps, Caesar salad and Lily’s rice pudding.

"I think the most popular food is the chicken and fries and the funnel fries," said Lily, daughter of Steve Brown of Lily’s and namesake of that tasty rice pudding.

As Glick added, "It’s not your usual pool food from vending machines."

Everyone was looking forward to the 2013 season.

"If it would just warm up, that would be great," said Summers.

For more information on pool hours, rates and memberships, check the website at ephratarec.com/communitypool.

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