Summer swimmers, however, do not seem to mind the change of plans. In fact, approximately 2,000 of them continue to visit the pool each week. Students, swim team members, and lifeguards- everyone is looking at the positive in the situation.
“Frankly I like it because I don’t have to worry,” said lifeguard Cole Roan, who is used to reapplying sunblock multiple times throughout the day. “The water is nice and cool, plus the swamp fan keeps the air moving to keep it from getting hot and sticky.”
The cool 81-degree water temperature is what Aquatic Center Supervisor Lynn Harper likes to see. Along with its general refreshment, the cool water lowers air humidity and temperature. “When the roof is off the water temperature can climb to 88 or 90 degrees,” explains Harper, “That’s like swimming in lukewarm bath water.” Furthermore, evaporative coolers (or swamp fans) help maintain a comfortable swimming environment. The Aquatic Center’s newest addition, the coolers keep air flowing on humid days. Air quality, water temperature and humidity levels are routinely monitored to ensure the health of the students and the community. Readings posted around the natatorium keep swimmers informed.
“At first I thought it would be horrible,” says Irving Swimmers team member Brianna Riley, “but the fans really seem to be working.” A year round swimmer, fair-skinned Riley is also pleased with the UV protection the roof offers. “It’s a big timesaver and it’s healthy,” she explains.
Despite the many non-financial benefits, North Lake College (NLC) student Pierce Asibelua says his preference is to stay in the summer sun as much as possible. “I’ll just walk around outside without my shirt off later,” he jokes. Nevertheless, while Asibelua is content to sunbathe elsewhere, his asthma is not as happy. “Around midday it gets hard to breathe,” he explains, “but it’s not a significant difference.”
One significant difference, however, is the amount of money the Aquatic Center is saving. Without UV rays to eat up the pool chemicals, Harper is dispensing 1/3 the amount of chlorine normally needed in Texas’ hot summer months. The center is also getting optimal pool usage. Both rain and construction can no longer affect the facility’s operational status. “We used to lose two weeks of pool usage time every year for the roof removal and reinstallation,” notes Harper.
Whether or not the budget will allow for future roof removal remains under discussion. However, the many benefits may outweigh the high price tag. How high? swimmers ask. Almost four times their guesses of twelve to fifteen thousand. A valuable asset to the students and community members, the North Lake Aquatic Center is dealing with the current economic environment not only in terms of physical infrastructure but also changes to the pool’s open hours.
“NLC, the City of Irving, and Irving ISD are committed to finding ways to maintain both the operational and financial viability of the Natatorium,” says Harper. “Our goal is to keep the Natatorium open and accessible for many years to come.”
Toddlers and seniors over 50 swim free as well as NLC students and faculty members with college I.D
. Youth are admitted for $1 and adults for $1.50. For a listing of public hours and adult lap swim visit City Of Irving Parks & Recreation online