ANN ARBOR – For many residents, Fuller Park Pool’s reopening this summer restored a sense of normalcy and seasonal tradition, though things felt very different due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The pool reopened mid-season on July 1 once state executive orders permitted and Ann Arbor Parks & Recreation were able to adopt a system to ensure proper distancing. To do this, they created a brand-new reservation system for the pool’s very limited lane supply and reconfigured its deck, and it didn’t come without its challenges.
“We had to change our operation significantly,” pool recreation supervisor Gayle Hurn told A4 via email. “We looked at all of the executive orders, county and city regulations and best practices around the country and then created our plan based on that information.
“To date, we have had no reported Covid cases from customers or staff. We heard from many customers that the system we put in place made them feel safe.”
✉ Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!
Hurn added that many customers who visited this summer were high risk individuals for contracting COVID-19. From painting the pool deck to indicate family and lap reservation spaces to safety protocols, she feels her team created a safe environment for guests.
One particular challenge to Fuller Park Pool staff was creating a new reservation system with a limited amount of lap lanes.
“With a system that is not ideal and our lap lanes filling up quickly, we had a lot of guests who were unhappy because of how challenging it was to get a lap swimming space,” said Hurn. “You can imagine, with over 120,000 residents and only 64 slots for lap swimming per day, it was hard to please everyone.”
In addition to the lean amount of spots, reservations had to be made up to five days in advance. According to some swimmers, securing a lane even with a reservation proved difficult, especially when the pool opened each day at 7 a.m. Guests were encouraged to limit their visits to three a week so that other swimmers could be guaranteed lap time.
Looking ahead to the 2021 season, it is difficult to predict if it will resemble this year’s operations. While many of their practices proved to be successful, a system overhaul could be necessary if the pandemic continues.
“If the pandemic persists, we will have to look seriously at our reservation software and make some decisions regarding the ease of use for our customers,” said Hurn.
Fuller Park Pool is at 1519 Fuller Rd. and closes for the season on Sunday, Sept. 20.