Our first summer in Columbia, after a very long, cold and snowy winter, we joined the CA. There are three choices for pool membership: Package Plan Plus, Package Plan or Pool Membership. We were delighted with the membership to all 23 outdoor pools, which included a couple mini-waterparks and the year-round pools at the Columbia Swim Center.
We live very close to the oldest, but recently renovated pool, Bryant Woods. It’s a quiet pool that is always set up with two lap lanes, a shallow area for the younger kids, a big open area for kids/adults who can swim, a deep end with diving boards, a baby pool, a hot tub and lots of green areas with seating and tables in the shade and sun for relaxing. When we drive by other area pools, we see that each pool offers something a bit different. This is great for me as I’m a mom who gets bored doing and seeing the same thing every day. I think my kids appreciate the changes too. Some of the pools have slides, some have only shallow areas, some are handicap accessible and so on.
Another beauty of having 23 pools to choose from is that when a pool has to close there is another pool to go to instead of skipping it that day. I love the way CA handles pool closures. They close one day a week on the same day of the week, every week. This information is posted on the pool’s entrance as well as on the pools page. When we belonged to another pool, it would close on random days, which led to a lot of tears from unhappy kids who wanted to swim and found a locked gate instead.
By speaking with John Herdson, director of CA Aquatics, I learned that the pools close for several reasons. It allows for maintenance team members to do needed repairs and for the lifeguards to take a break from their regular duties, but mostly it accommodates other services needed such as CA swim lessons, CA camps and private pool reservations.
Another thing to take note of is that the pools stagger their early season hours and end of season closings. We figured out pretty quickly why this happens. As summer draws to a close, the pool usage goes down. CA closes the lesser used pools earlier in the season and leaves the pools that get a higher volume of customers open the longest; closing most of the remaining pools on Labor Day weekend. The two heated pools (Stevens Forest and Swansfield) remain open past Labor Day weekend. That is something we’ve never seen a public pool do before and I think it’s great. Stevens Forest and Swansfield Mini-WaterPark stay open for these post Labor Day dates: September 8, 9, 15 and 16 for all those kids wanting to get in the last hurrah of the season!
Melissa Sinclair works in the Communications & Engagement Division at Columbia Association (CA). Melissa recently moved to Columbia with her three-generation family. She has lived in more than a dozen cities and is looking forward to making Columbia, Md., her permanent home! Over the past year she has worked on losing weight, getting fit and doing volunteer work; she is now looking forward to working for CA after staying home with her family for the last several years. Melissa has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a master’s degree in educational administration. Click here to read more of Melissa’s Getting to Know CA series.