The soundtrack of a pool club consists of the following: wet flip flops, lifeguard whistles, kids asking for snack-bar money, parents saying no, but then giving in after the fifth ask and loud splashes following a cannonball.
Unfortunately, the sounds have been put on pause. Although summer has arrived and Coronavirus cases have declined, pool clubs in New York are still not open for the season.
We’re all looking for answers, but unfortunately so are those who are in charge of the clubs themselves. Harriet Engel has been a board member at Willowbrook Swim and Tennis Club for four years and is a long time member herself of 16 years. She recently spoke to Westchester County Executive George Latimer on the phone, who is also awaiting answers from the state, to discuss the status of the pool clubs.
“George Latimer said on this call that he strongly feels that the pools can be open safely and they have done that in other states…it’s just a matter of when and what specific restrictions are imposed when they can open.”
The reopening of pool clubs is part of the Phase 4 structure in relation to COVID-19, however it is unclear if that means county pools or private ones. But, county pools are preparing to open, which means so is Willowbrook.
“We are prepared to open…when we are given the green light. We’re ready to go,” Engel said, stating that they’ve had plumbers there and pools being filled and repainted.
The question of snack bars, playgrounds and swim teams are all currently unanswered and not up to individual pool clubs but rather the state. However, tennis clubs have been open. At Willowbrook, although both pickleball and tennis courts are open for play, you can’t share balls and large clinics are not being held. With that being said, the Pros at the club are available for lessons if you are looking for something to get your kids out of the house.
That’s another thing. Kids have been cooped up for months inside their homes due to quarantine, so the opening of pools would be a great way to let them be outside and get out of the house. And with the cancellation of many sleepaway camps, families are now home with their kids with nothing to do. For those who are worried about social distancing and the travel of germs, no need to fear.
“The benefit of the pool clubs is that they are all open air…they say that being out in an open air environment is much safer because everything can circulate, so it seems like it’s a safe environment and plus we have a lot of deck space. So, we could allow the chairs to be more distanced from one another for people to social distance themselves on the deck,” Engel reassured.
And in terms of the swim team, although there is no concrete plan or set of guidelines to follow that have been provided just yet, there are some possible solutions. For instance, separating kids into different age groups and capping the number of swimmers allowed in the pool at one time. Even though these potential implementations change one’s normal routine at the pool, it seems as if that might be the only way to get back in the water.
“It’s the price of being able to partake in an activity, safely, to keep yourself and others safe. That’s the name of the game. You want to be able to do all these things, but we’ve taken all these precautions so to do something in an unsafe manner just doesn’t make sense right now,” said Engel. “You would sort of destroy all the work that you’ve put in up until now.”