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Officials working to get pools ready for summer

Staff Photo: John Bohn Contractor Ben Maddox, of Dacula, grinds the surface of a support beam of a water slide as county officials prepare outdoor pool facilities for a new summer season at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Contractor Ben Maddox, of Dacula, grinds the surface of a support beam of a water slide as county officials prepare outdoor pool facilities for a new summer season at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Life guard trainees John Taylor, 16, of Lawrenceville, rear, and Jonathan Cantrell, 16, of Snellville, near, take part in rescue training in the indoor swimming pool at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center. County officials are now preparing outdoor swimming facilities for the coming summer season.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Coriana Smith, of Norcross, swims with her children Mikenzie, 2, and Taylor, 8, in the leisure play pool at Bethesda Aquatic Park in Lawrenceville on Wednesday. The swimming facility also offers a four-lane instructional pool.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The more days the temperature tops 80 degrees, the more little pairs of eyes peer longingly over the fences into Gwinnett County pools.

"I'm ready. I know my kids are," DeeDee Baker said of the summer, as she ushered her 8-year-old twins into an indoor pool this spring break

Don't worry. The county will be ready too.

Officials have already begun the process of preparing local pools for the summer season.

Earlier this month, commissioners approved a $200,000 contract with Poolside Inc. for maintenance and repair work, part of which will give the county's outdoor facilities a new shine for their summer debut Memorial Day weekend.

Officials also use painting and other contractors for the entire parks department. After all, many of the pools are practically playgrounds in the water.

With five indoor facilities (three of which also have outdoor structures) and four outdoor locations, aquatics maintenance is actually a year-round endeavor, said Aquatics coordinator Diane Brim.

The pools are never drained for the winter, as the water helps keep the plaster bottom from cracking, but the water level is sometimes dropped for work.

"It is maintained (year-round), so it's basically vaccuuming, general cleaning, to get it up and running," Brim said.

Recently, a man worked on the enormous slide looping into the outdoor play pool at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center, while people swam laps inside.

But even as the touch-ups and upgrades go on, the biggest task for aquatics officials to prepare for the summer is hiring the help.

For the nine facilities, a total of 300 seasonal staff are hired for the summer, a process that begins before Christmas.

Watching a group of teenagers take a lifeguard training class Tuesday, Brim said the applications have been lighter than normal this year, as has the registration for classes. She said that could be due to the economy, as the training requires up-front payment.

But she said no one is worried about filling the spots and having the pools ready for the summer.

"We're pretty much ready to go," she said, adding that frequent rains have caused some scheduling snafus on repairs. "Everything is small details that add up."

For now, kids can enjoy the water at Bethesda's indoor play area, since the only other indoor play pool is closed for repairs.

That project -- a major $3.15 million renovation of the entire Bogan Park pool project -- is expected to keep the facility closed until September.

But all the other county pools will be ready for kids to make a splash this summer, she assured.


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