June 9, 2014

Heat will break slightly as McNamara Park pool opens up in Merced

Swim lessons began Monday at McNamara Park and other sites, where 780 youngsters signed up. The pool also opens Thursday for general use.

Some youngsters stood on the steps sheepishly gazing at the water, others cried anxious tears. Then there were the children who took to McNamara Park’s pool like fish, practicing kicking and going under water. That was the scene Monday, the opening day of swimming lessons at the south Merced park.

Afternoon classes began in the Merced High School pool on Monday.

Open swim at McNamara starts this week, running every Thursday through Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. through August. Cost is $1 for children and $2 for adults. The park is at 1040 Canal St.

This might be a good week to take a dip, although the triple digits are expected to drop to the low 90s by the weekend, according to Gary Sanger, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Hanford. Monday reached 107 degrees, according to an unofficial reading from the Merced Airport, he said.

“After ( today), the 100s will be gone for a while,” he said.

Cooler marine air is expected to blow in through the Pacheco Pass, he said, and will bring the mercury down to the low 90s heading into next week.

Whatever the thermometer reads, swim classes will continue.

About 800 children have signed up for swim lessons, according to Joey Chavez, sports and aquatic recreation supervisor for Merced. The children’s lessons were cheaper than originally planned after several groups came together in April.

With $9,000 from the Swim for Jaylin Scholarship Fund and First 5 of Merced County, children in Merced paid $10, less than half of the original fee.

About 60 high school volunteers helped, giving their time to be trained and to supervise swimmers. That allowed the city to hire half as many lifeguards. “It’s helping keep the cost down,” Chavez said.

The joint effort was also aided by the Merced Skimmers, a swim team that helped provide volunteers for supervision, and the Merced Union High School District, which provided pools for lifeguard training and children’s lessons.

Mike Conway, who oversees the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, lauded the collaborative effort.

The parents of youngsters from 6 months to 14 years old can still sign up their children for swimming lessons by emailing Chavez at chavezj@cityofmerced.org.

There are two more sessions, June 23-July 3 and July 7-17, at the McNamara Park pool from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and at Merced High from 4 to 7 p.m.

The city is not yet offering cooling centers for those who want to get out of the heat, Conway said.

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