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DeKalb County pool attendance climbs with mercury

DeKalb County pool attendance climbs with mercury

GENOA – It’s been a great summer for swimming and lounging by the pool.

The sun and hot weather are boosting attendance figures at public pools in DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa.

For some people, when it is as hot as it has been this week – with heat indexes above 100 degrees – the pool is the only place to be.

“It’s been a very good year for outdoor swimming,” DeKalb Park District’s Scott deOliveira said.

More than 22,600 people had taken a dip at Hopkins Pool as of Tuesday. By comparison, the total attendance for last summer was 30,665, deOliveira said. When the temperature hit 90 degrees June 10, more than 1,200 went to the pool. About 900 people were there on Memorial Day.

“We’re on pace to eclipse last year,” deOliveira said.

Officials at the Sycamore Park District and the Genoa Township Park District also have seen attendance figures well ahead of last summer.

To date, about 6,700 people have checked in at Chamberlain Park Pool. That’s up from about 5,900 people during the same period last summer, said Sandi Rease, aquatics director at Genoa Township Park District.

More people have come to the Sycamore Park District pool this summer as well, said Derek Stenberg, pool manager.

Both the Sycamore and DeKalb park districts have been looking for ways to address their aging aquatic facilities in recent years.

Leaders of both had discussed building a pool jointly owned and operated by the two taxing bodies in an unspecified location, but results of a survey released in December have dampened enthusiasm for a shared pool.

The facilities in DeKalb and Sycamore are clearly showing their age, but that hasn’t stopped many people from heading out to take a dip with excessive heat warnings in place for DeKalb County this week.

“People want a place to splash around,” deOliveira said

Sunshine and warm weather are the primary factors for pushing pool attendance higher this summer, but there are other factors as well.

At Chamberlain Park Pool, Rease said discounted pricing has helped attract more visitors. For example, there’s Teacher Tuesdays, when teachers get in free; and $3 Thursdays, when everyone gets in for $3. In fact, there is a discount of some kind almost every day of the week.

At Hopkins Pool, DeKalb Park District officials have ramped up programming, adding events such as Poolaplooza and a cardboard boat regatta, which is scheduled for July 30. Night swimming, through a program dubbed Hot Summer Nights, also has been a draw.

“We’ve had a lot of success with programming at the pool,” deOliveira said.

Sycamore Park District’s pool doesn’t have the water slides that Hopkins Park and Chamberlain Park Pool do. As a result, the district likely loses some customers to water parks, said Lisa Metcalf, recreation supervisor at Sycamore Park District.

However, the pool does have amenities such as three diving boards (including a high dive), a baby pool and a hot tub. (Stenberg said that some people love the hot tub, even on hot days.)

On Friday, Rebecca Ginley of Sycamore brought her children, Marissa, 18; Sam, 12; and Eden, 4, to the Sycamore Park District.

“It’s hot and we’ve been in the house a lot this week,” she said. While it may not have some features that other area pools have, she likes the baby pool, the attentive lifeguards and the relaxed vibe. “I can relax here,” she said.

Kara Wilkins of Sycamore took daughter Ava, 7, to Chamberlain Park Pool this week. Wilkins drives from Sycamore to Genoa about once a week during the summer because she prefers the pool there.

Britany Goodman of Burlington brings children Finn, 8, and Holly, 5, to Chamberlain Park Pool at least three times a week.

For her, the staff at the Genoa pool make it worth the drive from Burlington.

DeOliveira said it can get too hot for some people to go to the pool. He’s not sure what the magic number is, but at some point, attendance starts to fall.

“It can get so hot that our business slows down,” he said.

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