Although the actual summer season has gotten off to a bi-polar start — one minute it’s hot, the next it’s raining — the Oakdale City pool, The Plunge, opened officially Saturday, June 2 to eager swimmers.
For many local youths, days spent in the cool waters of The Plunge is the highlight of the summer vacation as they splash under the watchful eye of the highly-trained lifeguards, some of whom grew up as part of the Oakdale Gator swim team and later swam for the high school team.
However, as the city struggled with budget woes, the fate of The Plunge seemed uncertain until Oakdale Irrigation District awarded the city a grant to help subsidize the cost of operating the pool during the summer.
“Without OID funding, council would have to find a way to fund the pool,” said Oakdale City Recreation Coordinator Brea DeRespini.
Given the fact that the city has experienced well-publicized monetary strain over the years due to the after effects of a less-than-robust economy, it’s a fair guess how The Plunge may have fared.
This is the third year that OID has awarded the City of Oakdale a grant to help offset pool costs. This year, the donation from OID was for $72,000. According to DeRespini, the pool operating costs are $130,000 a year.
“OID helps support open swim and swimming lessons,” she explained. “It helps encourage youth to not swim in unsafe places, like the canals.”
As part of the conditions of the grant, the city must provide education on water safety and unsafe swimming locations, such as canals. As part of this condition, the City will be hosting a Movie in the Park event at Dorada Park on July 21.
Before the scheduled movie is shown (Dolphin Tale), a short education film about water safety will be shown first.
With OID’s contribution, the city is able to keep the admission prices low for open swim, DeRespini added.
A youth day pass (ages 13 and under) is only $.50; adults are $1.
This year, the recreation department is making season passes available. Youth season passes are only $25; adults, $50.
“It’s a good price break for people going to the pool all the time,” DeRespini said.
Last year, 9,198 patrons visited The Plunge through the summer season (June-September.)
Swim lessons are more popular than ever as there were 100 more kids participating in the program than the previous year with 322 enrolled participants. Swim lessons have started for all ages, please check with the Parks and Recreation Department for an updated availability list.
New this year are adult water aerobics and junior lifeguard training.
Anyone 16 or older can participate in the water aerobics for $5 daily or $45 a month; junior lifeguard training is available for those 13 or older who are interested in pursuing a summer job as a future lifeguard at The Plunge.
All lifeguards employed by The Plunge are CPR-certified, lifeguard trained as well as additionally certified with Total Lifeguard training that provides ongoing training, every other week.
Biographies of all the lifeguards will be posted soon at The Plunge so residents can get to know their local lifeguards.
For more information on Park and Recreation activities, call 845-3591 or go to the city website (www.ci.oakdale.ca.us) for the activity guide, which is listed under the Parks and Recreation Department.