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Crowds flock to city pools
Summer swim programs see record numbers
summer pic2
A whopping 13,300 people attended City of Turlock recreational swim sessions in 2012, up 1,300 people from a year ago. - photo by Journal file photo

The City of Turlock’s summer swim programs experienced one of their busiest years ever in 2012 – despite one pool being closed for half of the season.

The increased attendance is inexplicable, but the numbers don’t lie. A whopping 13,300 people attended recreational swim sessions in 2012, up 1,300 people from a year ago.

“We had a very busy summer this year,” said Karen Packwood, Turlock recreation supervisor.

Traditionally, Turlock’s Recreation Division offers summer swim programs at three pools: Columbia Pool, Turlock High’s pool and Pitman High’s pool. But this year, Turlock High’s pool was forced out of operation July 19 – a month before the Aug. 26 end date of the swim season – due to nearby construction.

Incredibly, the Turlock High pool closure had no negative impact on swim attendance.

“It did not impact our numbers at all,” Packwood said. “We had amazing participation numbers.”

The outstanding numbers extended to swim lessons. A total of 1,800 people took swimming lessons this year, up 500 from the 1,300 lessons of a year ago.

Interest in other Turlock aquatics programs, including those in lifeguarding, water polo, and a new adult lap swim program, was outstanding as well, Packwood said.

And a longstanding Turlock Irrigation District-sponsored pool pass program, intended to discourage children from swimming in canals, had its most successful year since its 2008 inception. The District distributed 4,000 free children’s pool passes, 878 of which were redeemed in Turlock. That’s up from 117 passes last year.

 “They had never seen those kinds of numbers,” Packwood said, noting the District had to print additional passes mid-summer due to demand.

Packwood said she believed the increased attendance may be due, in part, to many Turlockers visiting Columbia Pool for the first time. Though Turlock High’s pool is closer to many residents, Columbia Pool features a shallow area where young children can learn safely – an amenity not available at Turlock High’s pool.

While some people may have liked Columbia Park after that first visit, the surge in visitors ultimately remains inexplicable to the City of Turlock.

“We don’t know where people came from,” Packwood said.