Culver City reopens municipal pool for public swimming

CULVER CITY — The city’s municipal pool reopened July 13 with limited hours and stringent public safety measures, after closing four months ago to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services reopened the pool, known as the Plunge, in coordination with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which allowed public swimming pools to reopen July 10.

Culver City Recreation and Community Services Manager Darren Uhl said he and his staff have closely monitored information from the county since the pool closed mid-March, but were caught off guard by the July 10 announcement.

“We’ve been scrambling, sanitizing everything and putting measures in place for public safety,” he said.

The Plunge reopened at the same time that many businesses closed again after a drastic increase in COVID-19 cases. Yet with proper safety measures in place, the risk of contracting the coronavirus while swimming in an outdoor pool is low, said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in late May.

“Swimming in a pool is definitely safe,” she said. “We’ve had some evidence from the CDC that being in the pool is a safe activity.”

The new pool hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends. Eighteen lanes are for individual and family swimming. Only pre-registered swimmers will be permitted to enter the facility.

For individual lap swimming, only one person per lane is permitted and swimmers must stay in the middle of the lane in order to socially distance. For family lap swimming, a maximum of four people from the same household may swim in one lane.

There is also a 15-minute disinfection period between each lap swim/program block. The indoor locker rooms are not open.

Despite any lingering safety concerns, Recreation and Community Services Supervisor Jeannine Houchen said the 45-minute slots for lap swimming were booked almost immediately for the first week. 

Swimmers lined up early July 13 to get their temperature taken and sign in before rinsing off outside and putting their clothes into a sanitized bin in front of each pool lane. 

Julia, who only gave her first name, came to Culver City to swim because the Santa Monica municipal pool where she usually goes is still not open. The Los Angeles resident said she tried ocean swimming as an alternative, but found the open water too salty and a little scary.

“It didn’t go well,” she said.  “I hope all the pools reopen soon. It’s important to stay fit and boost our immune system.”

Culver City will continue to follow guidelines for outdoor swimming set by Los Angeles County and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but are grateful to be able to reopen the Plunge, Uhl said.

“We’re very happy that we can open and help people with their recreation and fitness needs. It’s been a long three or four months.”

By Cynthia Gibson

Contributing Writer