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Open swim at Aquatic Center to close on Sunday

T-R photo by Lana Bradstream — Lifeguard Tatum Englund, who is a senior this year, keeps watch on swimmers at the Marshalltown Aquatic Center on Thursday. The center will lose many staff members as the college students are returning to school early because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Open swimming for the general public at the Marshalltown Aquatic Center will close Sunday evening.

Parks and Recreation Director Geoff Hubbard said many of the employees are college students and they are returning to their campuses early.

“They are not allowed to leave due to COVID,” he said. “Before, they could drop stuff off and come back to work on the weekends. Once they get there, their temperatures will be taken and they will be quarantined. That includes a lot of our managers and head lifeguards and we do not have enough staff left.”

Water walking, lap swimming and adult tot swimming will continue, but with a different schedule beginning Monday. The Aquatic Center will maintain the schedule until Aug. 21 when the entire facility will close for the season.

“Previously, we would close one to two weeks before school started,” Hubbard said.

Mike Schwan of Minnesota enjoys the lazy river at the Marshalltown Aquatic Center on Thursday. The facility announced open swim will end Sunday evening.

The center got off to a late start opening for the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of Memorial Day weekend, it opened on June 15. A 50-percent capacity restriction was put into place.

During this season, the center averaged 150 to 200 people per day. In previous years, Hubbard said 400 to 500 people would frequent the pool daily. He was nervous that many people would want to show up, but that was not the case.

“I am happy it was lower than normal,” Hubbard said. “It was manageable for the staff who had more cleaning and for people who did not feel comfortable being in a large gathering. It worked out for everybody.”

The center also implemented other rules for the year. Everyone seeking admission had to have temperatures taken.

“There were a couple people we turned away who had temperatures of more than 100.4 degrees,” Hubbard said.

Patrons were asked questions to determine if they might have been exposed to COVID-19.

Deck chairs were removed. The lazy river had a limit on the number of 24 tubes and no double tubes were allowed. Lockers were not available. Extra sanitizing procedures were put into place, such as extra pool-cleaning sessions and cleaning of the restrooms every hour.

The staff encouraged social distancing and Hubbard said people were really good about that.

“Whenever I checked, people were doing it and everybody was having a good time,” he said. “The staff did a great job with social distancing and wearing their masks — even on the really hot days. They really made sure the pool was safe for the patrons and for themselves.”

Hubbard is proud of what the Aquatic Center staff accomplished during the pandemic. He said they worked harder to clean things up and held true to the new policies.

“I thought they did a good job,” he said. “We had a good game plan through the summer.”

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Contact Lana Bradstream at 641-753-6611 or lbradstream@timesrepublicancom.

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