CHICAGO (CBS) — Community pools are finally open for the summer; kind of. CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory shows us what swimming looks like during a pandemic at one of the only public pools operating in the Chicago area.
There’s no freestyling at Centennial Park Aquatic Center in Orland Park; restrictions abound.
Wear a mask on the deck, come dressed to jump right in, and stay at least six feet away from other people whenever possible.
The new laws for swimming pools don’t bother Donna Driscoll. She’s crawled the chlorine six out of seven days since Centennial Park Aquatic Center reopened last week.
“I love it, it’s great. This is a beautiful pool. I feel very safe with, you know, your lanes are spread apart,” she said.
Lap swimming is an exercise that’s inherently socially distanced. Still, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is being strict about these strokes.
Right now, only 10 swimmers maximum are allowed in each area – and for only lap swimming, or lessons.
Many pools aren’t even bothering to reopen.
“There’s really no other place that’s open, so it’s been great,” Dan Fazel said while visiting Centennial Park Aquatic Center.
The demand is there, so two open swim sessions are offered each morning – from 6:15 a.m. to 7:10 a.m. and from 7:20 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.
Faxel, a former college backstroker, was initially surprised to see more than the usual four or five people paddling around.
“With not being able to do much, it’s just everyone is just real excited to be out here and get back in the pool. Who knows how long this will last, too,” he said.
To stave off infection, lifeguards’ duties now include watching out for germs.
“So if a person is sitting on a chair, immediately after they’re done with that chair, we spray and disinfect that,” said Orland Park Recreation Division Manager Ray Piattoni. “We’re controlling the use of the restroom, so after a user is in the restroom, we immediately clean the restroom. We have two family changing rooms.”
The CDC also suggests daily disinfecting of every surface at swimming pools – handrails, kickboards, and more.
“Just trying to keep everybody safe,” Piattoni said.
The big question: when can the rest of the pool at Centennial Park open, and what does that look like when the capacity is more than 1,000 people?
“We are waiting for IDPH guidelines for when we can open for real. We’re very excited, and we’re actually poised to open as soon as we have the go ahead,” Piattoni said.
Whether the next phase’s cap is based on people or percentage is still being figured out.
One thing’s for sure: you won’t catch Driscoll doing flipturns during normal hours – just yet.
“That’s where I feel the comfort level is a little different,” she said.
IDPH would only say that Phase 4 guidelines for swimming pools are “forthcoming.”
Many swimming areas in Indiana are open with restrictions. For example, Munster pools are open to residents only and crowds are capped at 200 people.
CBS 2 has checked with several other local park districts about when pools will reopen.
- In Chicago, public pools will remain closed until further notice.
- In Deerfield, only Mitchell Pool will reopen this season, but a date has yet to be announced.
- Tinley Park officials are waiting for IDPH guidance for Phase 4.
- In Highland Park, pools are closed for the season.
- In Elgin, all outdoor pools are closed for the season, and staff is “assessing options” for their indoor pool.
- In Naperville, the public beach is closed for the season, and officials are waiting for the state’s Phase 4 guidance before opening their splash pad.
- Fox Valley pools are closed for the season.
Crown Point, Ind., officials are waiting to reopen their splash pad until after July 4.