Heat, publicity boost pool attendance

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Lifeguard Kelsey Britt, right, watches over the pool at the Clovis Aquatic Center during Saturday afternoon’s open swim. Britt is one of 12 lifeguards employed by the city. The center is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. during weekdays for various activities, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

More heat, more hours and more publicity have turned into more people at the city’s swimming facilities.

Both the Clovis Aquatic Center and the O.C. Potter Park pool are seeing spikes in attendance this season.

Part of it’s due to a heat spike with 100-degree days, and part of it’s due to expanded weekday hours and services at the aquatic center. But Clark Carpenter, an aquatic specialist with the city, said it’s first and foremost been a matter of getting the word out.

“Some of it has been from the heat, but a lot of it is people realizing we’re open,” Carpenter said. “We’ve really pushed our image to make it a more family-oriented activity.”

The results are paying off.

Since the pools opened for the summer season earlier this month, Carpenter said the aquatic center is averaging anywhere from 75 to 140 visitors daily and the Potter Park Pool is between 80 and 160 on an average day, with some days close to 300.

Carpenter said last year, the average was closer to 50 visitors at the aquatic center.

The highest use either facility received was last Saturday, when Potter Park had free swimming in connection with the Juneteenth celebration.

Carpenter said 500 used the pool that day, but noted kids who left and returned were counted every time they entered the pool.

Carpenter said the aquatic center has about one-third of its users involved in the daily swimming lessons that run from noon to 3 p.m.

The center’s day starts at 7:30 a.m. with water aerobics, continues with the Clovis Swim Club at 8:30 a.m. Following swim lessons, there is a 3-6 p.m. open swim and 6-9 p.m. family swimming. The pool is open 1-5 p.m. Saturday and closed Sunday.

That’s a total of 71.5 hours of operation per week. Last season, the aquatic center was open 41 hours per week (8-10 a.m., 2-7 p.m. weekdays, noon-6 p.m. Saturdays).

Parks and Recreation Director Bill Bizzell said the goal is to keep expanding the hours and services offered.

“We’re expanding that aquatic center,” Bizzell said. “In five years, the plan is to have an eight-lane lap pool and an indoor competition pool. We’ll probably, consider at that time, taking the roof off … but that’s down the road.”

The Potter Park pool is open 1-6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

When swimming lessons are complete at the center, Carpenter said the noon-3 p.m. block will be redistributed for other activities. Carpenter said he’s trying to keep those hours open to the public.

“Everybody’s jockeying,” Bizzell said. “The swim club wants more time, and water aerobics wants more time. We’ll juggle things.”