Last summer began in Elk Grove when large crowds flocked to the grand opening of the long-awaited Elk Grove Aquatics Center in May 2019.
The city of Elk Grove’s 76-acre, $42 million facility will have a quieter and less crowded summer this year. Recreation swimming returned there on July 3, but the crowd capacity is reduced and social distancing is practiced in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Visitors can only swim during a two-hour session in an early afternoon before the parks staff shuts down the facility to spend an hour cleaning surfaces touched by visitors. The public is then allowed back to the aquatic center where they can swim for another two hours before closing time.
About 50 people, mostly families, arrived for the first swim session on July 3. Several brought beach chairs from home since the park staff removed the facility’s deck furniture. Most of the families stayed together at the shallow pool, while several children and adults took turns on the two-story waterslide.
“It’s great there is a limited amount of people and they’re asking us to socially distance,” said Carolina Van Dalen, a visitor who lives near the Elk Grove Aquatics Center. “It’s not crowded and it’s great.”
Facility operator, the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) started these safety measures when they reopened the Elk Grove Aquatics Center and the Wackford Aquatic Complex in time for the Independence Day weekend. The CSD’s Jerry Fox Swim Center at Elk Grove Regional Park remains closed.
“We’re using this weekend as a good test to make sure that we can keep social distancing and make adjustments as needed,” CSD spokesperson Jenna Brinkman said.
She mentioned that her staff is encouraging people to prepay for admission on the CSD’s website in order to make the lines move faster into the Elk Grove Aquatics Center.
Christina Davis, a CSD recreation coordinator, said that her staff was eager to begin the swim season.
“This entire time, we’ve been getting emails (asking), ‘When can we come back? When can we come back?’” she said. “When we had our training yesterday, there were smiling faces across the board.
Davis said they are operating the Elk Grove Aquatics Center at 30% capacity or no more than 450 people at a time. She said that safety guidelines include placing blue dots six feet apart for each visitor to stand on while waiting to use a waterslide or diving board. Lockers have also been closed and bleachers near the competition pool were blocked from public use.
Guests are asked to wear face coverings if they are inside a building or if they cannot stand more than six feet away from others.
“As soon as (the Sacramento County public health staff) gives out any more guidelines we will act on it and make sure we’re doing everything we can to make our patrons safe,” Davis said.
Swim teams were earlier allowed to use the Elk Grove Aquatics Center and the CSD staff is hosting a summer camp program for children there.
Davis mentioned that recreation swimming may remain open there after the Labor Day weekend, which is typically when the swim season ends at the aquatics center.
During the reopening day, Elk Grove resident Joel Boyd watched his family wade into the shallow pool.
“This is our first time here, and we have a pool at home,” he said. “The kids have been cooped up for a while and it’s good for them to go out.”
For more information on recreation swimming at the Elk Grove Aquatics Center and the Wackford Aquatic Complex, visit the CSD’s website, www.YourCSD.com.