Open swim draws a crowd to the Vashon Pool on hot summer days. (Susan Riemer/Staff Photo)

Open swim draws a crowd to the Vashon Pool on hot summer days. (Susan Riemer/Staff Photo)

Vashon Pool is busy, making changes this summer

This summer, with one of the warmest Julys on record, has been perfect for swimming, and the Vashon Pool has been a busy place, according to Aquatics Manager Ann White.

This is White’s first summer at the pool, after stepping into her role in February; she is making some changes and is looking to make more. One of the changes was announced last week to better accommodate evening lap swimmers. Now, there is a designated lap swim time between 7 and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Previously, evening lap swimmers shared the pool during the family swim time, sometimes resulting in several lap swimmers sharing just two lanes. While it is common practice in Seattle to swim with many people to a lane, on Vashon, that is not common. After some requests for a change, White did so.

“We want to make sure people have the space they need for feel comfortable swimming,” she said.

White has also added a Masters Meetup at 10 a.m. Sundays and Wednesdays. It started just last week, and White said any adult, regardless of swimming ability or endurance level, is welcome. For the masters’ swims, White writes two workouts on a board, one longer and one shorter, and people can choose whichever one they want to follow. There is no extra charge for the swim time. The benefit is the camaraderie and inspiration in the pool — and the accountability that comes with swimming with others.

“It makes you commit,” she said.

Swimming lessons, in two-week blocks, will continue through August. White had intended for the pool to offer lessons for teens, but received little response, she said. Long range, she believes the best way for the pool to serve teens is through the school district — something she plans to continue to work toward.

A program called Vashon Swim for All was developed last year for people who could were not comfortable in traditional swimming lessons or could not afford them. It is no longer operating. Those lessons were free, but White said she was uncomfortable offering free lessons at a separate time. Instead, the money the Vashon Park District received to support that program is now going to scholarships for the general lessons, covering half of the $88 cost. She is also considering developing a sponsorship program, allowing people to donate $45, which would cover the remainder of the cost of lessons for people who cannot afford to pay it.

“We want everyone to swim by age 8,” she added. “We want to be able to adhere to that as a community.”

White noted that she has received many compliments about the pool’s water quality, and attributed it to Aquatic Lead Derek Hinz. She said that she and her staff have also changed the cleaning procedures for the pool facility as a whole.

“It makes us a desirable place to hang out when the temperatures are 80 plus degrees,” she said. “We want to be perceived as a safe, clean place.”

While summer is in full swing, White is looking to make other changes after Labor Day, including extending the morning lap swim, which now ends at noon, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. She also wants to change how the pool offers lessons, stepping away from the traditional two-week block to something that might be easier for families and be more modern. She will also offer a Red Cross lifesaving class on Sept. 7, 8 and 9. Adults are encouraged to take the course, if interested, and should inquire at the pool about registering.

“We always need adult guards that can work when kids are in school,” she said.

The pool will remain uncovered until Oct. 13 — making it possible to swim outside during the often-warm early fall days — and will reopen under the dome Oct. 15.

For more information about the pool, see vashonparks.org. Also note, because of pool parties, evening lap swim will revert to sharing the family swim time, between 6 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 3 and Aug. 6.

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