Clemens Community Pool
Clemens Community Pool (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

For the first time in several months, the sights and sounds of locals exercising in the water filled Clemens Community Pool on Monday morning.

“There were a couple of people that hadn’t been in the water for months today and they got out and the first they said to me was ‘it’s just nice to do something,’” said Daniel Mikula, pool director. “It’s a great outlet for people that have traditionally done it or for people looking for something to do. We’re here, we’re available.”

Beyond just being able to have something to do outside of the house, those who love lap swimming or water aerobics have sorely missed having access to the Philomath pool. With the doors now reopened, several residents will want to visit their old friend, constructed six decades ago, while Mikula tries to spread the word to potential new users.

“One of the things I’m going to work on is I think there’s a lot of people in this community that don’t even know this pool is here and available and an opportunity for them,” Mikula said. “I think right now especially with where we’re at in the world, exercise is a great way to take that time for yourself, refocus a little bit, and swimming has always been a great way to do that.”

The pool, located at Philomath High School but available to the community, opened in the early hours Monday morning with pandemic-related restrictions in place. Mikula said there were no early risers for a session available at 6 a.m., but did have a full pool an hour later.

“Because of our limited ability to have people in the pool, we’re only allowed five people for lap swim at a time,” Mikula said. “For aquafitness, we’re going to be able to space them out and get up to 10 people. But you do need a reservation.” (Click here to reach the pool’s reservation page).

Mikula added that walk-ins will be accepted on a first-come basis, but that will only be available if slots are remaining.

The sessions run for 45 minutes and then 15 minutes are set aside for the pool area to be cleaned. On top of the capacity limits, various other restrictions are also in place, including a one-way flow of how swimmers enter and exit.

“There’s no crossing paths in terms of people having to enter and leave the same door,” Mikula explained. “Once they’re on deck, they actually make a circle all the way around the deck after they’re done swimming, they exit and the next group comes in after we’ve sanitized the facility.”

In addition, Mikula said restrooms are limited use only with no changing or showers.

“I’m hoping we can lift those restrictions in not too long but right now, it’s come in your suit, leave in your suit,” he said.

As for pool fees, Mikula said he’s not selling annual memberships right now because of uncertainties connected with COVID-19. Punch cards with 10 and 20 visits are available, and people can even just pay a single daily fee.

“You may only use one time a day just so we’re spreading out those reservations,” Mikula said. “Right now, we’re not limiting to how many you can do a week.”

Osborn Aquatic Center also reopened access to its indoor pools on Monday for lap swim and exercise classes but patrons over there are limited to three uses per week.

Clemens Community Pool is open six days a week and closed for now on Sundays. (Click here for more information).

“Swimming, the great thing about it, is you can do it at any age,” Mikula said. “Being low impact, it’s a great way for young to old, doesn’t matter … it’s just getting in and moving.”

The pool has undergone a state-level inspection process and the school district has been complying with standards set by the Benton County Health Department. Mikula said there haven’t been any issues.

“The pool is cleaning clear, the water’s balanced and everything’s functioning as it should,” Mikula said. “The chlorine has been proven to take care of the virus, so we don’t need to worry about the pool itself. What we’re looking at is sanitizing high-touch areas.”

Those high-touch areas include doors, equipment such as kickboards, handles on pool ladders and the blocks — basically anywhere people touch.

“We also have it set up so there are chairs out on deck and that’s where people put their belongings and only there,” he added. “And when they leave, those spaces get sanitized as well.”

Mikula said the pool has eight lifeguards on staff — all high school students.

“I’m looking for some that are not high school because once they go back to hybrid, the school hours are going to be problematic,” he said. “So I’m still looking for guards that would like to get a few hours a week to come in.”

For now, there are no swim lessons offered, but Mikula believes that will change in the coming months.

“The hope is that within the next month, I can start opening up for a little bit of swim lessons,” Mikula said. “I know that’s a big thing … I want to make sure we get the youth of Philomath and teach them how to swim. That’s the whole point of really having a community pool. So I’m looking to start those programs within the month to the next two months depending on how COVID plays out.”

The future of Clemens Community Pool has been discussed often in recent years and decisions remain on which path will be taken as far as renovating or rebuilding. A pool advisory committee has met once this year and the pool director said those meetings now begin to ramp up.

For now, locals who feel the desire to get back into Clemens Community Pool now have that option.

Said Mikula, “We want people in this water, it’s been sitting lonely for too long.”

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