Despite the rolling grey clouds showing the potential for rain, residents were eager to jump into the cold waters of New Britain and Bristol city pools that are now open for the season.
“We go to the pools a lot every summer,” said Casey Roy, a New Britain resident who took her three kids to the A.W. Stanley pool. “This is our favorite spot and it’s really nice to see that they are opened up for the summer.”
In New Britain, A.W. Stanley and Willow Brook pools both opened on Saturday and residents were thrilled that a small semblance of summer waited for them. Matt Scofield, the city’s recreation services coordinator, said after the department received state guidelines for reopening the pools earlier this month, they immediately sprang into action and started to implement all the necessary training, cleaning protocols, and safety rules.
“We had to swim test all the lifeguards to make sure they’re ready, as well as having everyone on staff become familiar with all the new safety procedures,” said Scofield. There are about 40 lifeguards and 30 pool attendants in total.
New CPR techniques are also implemented, which means if there is an emergency, resuscitation will be administered through a bag valve mask, which has breathing barriers to help prevent disease transmission when performing CPR. This prevents the traditional mouth-to-mouth contact to ensure the safety of all parties.
Summer is looking a little different during the pandemic and many visitor changes had to be made. The swim times at both A.W. Stanley and Willow Brook pool are broken up into several sessions, at 9:30-11:30 a.m., 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will have two slots, 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays will have four slots, 9:30-11:30 a.m., 12-2 p.m., 2:30-4:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Reservations can be made online, at nbparksnrec.org, in the recreation office at 27 West Main St., room 302, or by calling the Parks and Rec department at 860-826-3360 Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m.-3:45 p.m. All reservations must be made no more than seven days in advance of visit. Each swim spot is $5 with a maximum of four people. Residents can reserve up to two spots per timeslot.
All slots were sold out on the first day of reopening and Scofield said it was nice to see that people are happy to come swim and play in the water.
“We’re excited to showcase what the department has done in terms of safety for both the public and the staff,” he said. “We’re moving forward and making sure that summer isn’t canceled.”
Angelic Medina, a New Britain resident who got to the pool early with her husband and two grandchildren, said it was nice to be able to bring the children outside.
“It’s a little melancholy because of what’s been going on, but I know we can’t live in fear,” she said. “It’s been hard for the kids to stay inside for so long, this will be great for them to burn all that energy. We’re a little concerned for safety but we also know we just need to continue to be safe, be responsible, and be mature. I think the city has done a great job with keeping things in control.”
Over at the Dennis Malone Aquatic Center in Bristol, similar sentiments were felt on their first day of reopening. Raelynne Andrews, an aquatics coordinator, said she was really excited to see the staff again.
“That was one of the hardest parts of being shut down. I missed everyone,” she said. “We’ve all been anxious to get back to work and I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of our regulars.”
Andrews was able to continue working at the center during the shutdown. The work included keeping up with the center’s ongoing renovations, painting, upgrading locker rooms, and installing a new ultraviolet sanitation system to help disinfect the pool after each use.
“It was almost a blessing in disguise because we were able to get a lot of that done, as well as to continue planning for our reopening,” she said. “Because there’s still a lot of uncertainty, I’m a little nervous. But I’m excited for people to come and have a good time.”
Jason Warner, a first-time lifeguard for the season, said everyone’s been working hard to make sure the facilities are clean and safe.
“We keep up with the sanitations so I hope that will help people become more comfortable in using the pools and just come to have fun,” he said. “It definitely looks different than other summers, but we’re slowly getting back to normal life.”
For Jaimie Clout, a supervisor at the aquatic center, she said it was nice to be back after being closed for over a hundred days.
“We’re increasing our cleaning, doing frequent testing, and making sure that everyone is following the guidelines,” she said. “I’m just excited to see everyone get their jobs back and because it’s summer, it’s the perfect time to come back and interact with people again.”
The center will be available on a reservation basis with only 25 patrons being permitted into the facility per time slot. Reservations can be made by calling 860-584-3837.
Entry into Rockwell Park Pool will be on a first come first served basis, with a maximum of 25 patrons per time slot.
Contact Catherine Shen at email@example.com