Open pools mark summer's start

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Memorial Day holiday weekend started with a splash for some area residents who turned out for the opening of municipal pools, marking the unofficial start of summer.

"It's fun. I like to jump in the pool," said Kilah Ruebel, 7, of Cape Girardeau as she splashed in Capaha Pool with yellow water wings on her arms. "I like to splash people," she said as she played in the pool with her 5-year-old sister, Ryleah.

Swimmers and those just splashing around admitted the water was chilly when they first got in. Water temperature was at 77 degrees when the pool opened at 1 p.m. under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s.

Bikini-clad Betsy Slinkard, 20, of Cape Girardeau didn't care about the water. "I just need the sun," she said as she sun bathed on a towel spread out on the concrete deck.

To pool users Saturday, Cape Girardeau's oldest municipal pool looked great.

But aquatics supervisor Chad Sierman knows the nearly 48-year-old pool can't last forever.

City officials for several years now have worried how long the pool can hold up.

"We never know until we fill it up and see what happens," he said.

The aging pump is always a concern. Water also leaks from some of the pipes buried beneath the concrete structure. "We do have leaks all over the place," Sierman said.

But so far the city has kept the pool afloat.

That's good news to Robinson and other pool users.

Cape Girardeau has two pools. The Central Municipal Pool is closed as usual for the Memorial Day weekend.

Sierman said the pool is being drained in preparation for taking down the bubble -- the air-inflated roof -- which covers the structure during the fall, winter and spring months.

"We have to take all the equipment outside, all the diving boards, lights, cables. Everything has to be taken outside," he said.

City staff plan to deflate the bubble on Tuesday as work continues to reopen the pool on June 6.

"It takes two or three days to fill it with water. Then we have to chlorinate the water and put the equipment up again," Sierman said.

Capaha Pool typically has more than 26,000 visitors during the summer. Central Municipal Pool -- which opened in 1980 -- attracts about 75,000 visitors over the course of a year.

In addition to Capaha Pool, municipal pools in Jackson and Scott City also opened Saturday for the summer season.

All four pools typically are open for public recreation during afternoon and evening hours in the summer. In the morning, the pools offer swimming lessons or other specific activities such as fitness swims.

Like Capaha Pool, the Jackson swimming pool wasn't crowded Saturday.

Chelsea Sullivan celebrated her 11th birthday Saturday at the swimming pool. She said she spends every summer at the pool. "I go every day," she said.

"I like to dive. I like to swim. I like to hang out with friends," she said. Sullivan said she'd rather swim than shop. "I'm not really a mall freak," she said.

She said there are some summer days where the Jackson pool is crowded and there are long lines at the diving boards.

That wasn't the case Saturday as Skyler Hanks, 10, of Cape Girardeau and others jumped off the three diving boards.

"I like doing cannonballs off the low dive," he said.

Built in 1976, the Jackson pool operates from Memorial Day to around mid-August. "About that time of year, people turn to other interests," said pool manager Carole Baugh.

Cape Girardeau's two municipal pools operate through Labor Day. Capaha Pool then closes and the Central Pool is once again outfitted with its inflated roof.

Scott City's municipal pool, which operates throughout the summer, opened Saturday with an improved filtration system.

"We have a pretty steady clientele that show up here every day," said park director Phyllis Crump.

Pool managers say area residents can't find more economical summer recreation than that offered at municipal swimming pools.

Scott City charges $1.50 for adults and $1 for children 12 years of age and under.

Cape Girardeau charges $2.10 for those age 14 and older. Children 13 years of age and younger get in for $1.55. Those who are 60 years of age or older get in for $1.80.

Jackson charges $2 admission for those 5 years of age and older. After 5 p.m., the fee is $1. It's free admission for those who are 4 years old or younger.

Jackson's Baugh said it's hard to beat those prices. "It is probably the cheapest entertainment you can get these days," she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

POOL HOURS

CAPE GIRARDEAU

Capaha Pool

Open 1 to 8 p.m. today and Monday

1 to 5 p.m. through June 3.

Then normal summer hours: Monday through Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 to 11 a.m. family swim; regular public swim 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 8 p.m.

Central Municipal Pool

Opens June 6

1 to 8 p.m. daily

Jackson Pool

1 to 8 p.m. daily

Scott City Pool

1 to 6 p.m. daily

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