After sending thousands of e-mails over the past 10 months calling on D.C. public officials to restore the Wilson Aquatic Center pool to its original 50-meter configuration seven days a week, advocates may have gained a few meters.
According to John Stokes, Chief of Staff for the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), beginning June 19, the pool will have more swim time and, thanks to the use of new portable bulkheads, transitions between 50-meters and 25-yards will be more flexible.
So Wilson aficionados, this is the scoop on the new schedule: beginning June 19, the Wilson pool will be configured in 50-meters every day, except Tuesday and Thursday, when the lanes will be 25-yards. On Saturday, if there is a need for shorter lanes for diving or other activities, part of the pool will be switched to the short course through the use of portable bulkheads, with 50-meter lanes still available for lap swimmers. The weekday lane switches between 50 meters to 25 yards, will occur before the pool opens and after it closes, so no swim time will be lost, which has been a frustration for many swimmers. Pool hours will remain the same.
As I wrote here in April, "The Problem with D.C.'s Premier Pool," the Wilson pool is the only indoor 50-meter pool in DC, thus the passionate advocacy of swimmers of ranging abilities and ages to keep it that way during all swimming hours. So, I realize many 50-meter advocates will not be overjoyed by this less than meteoric development, especially those who swim every day. But as the originator of the petition calling to restore the Wilson pool to its former 50-meter premier self (created a year ago June 1), and as a participant in many efforts to convey the vast majority of the Wilson swimming public's preference for 50 meters, I consider this progress, albeit inadequate. But DPR listened to suggestions, while accounting for summer weekend pool-users who might prefer other recreational activities.
However, whenever I remember swimming in the 50-meter Wilson pool every day, I'm disappointed in the awkward changes it's undergone.
As for other matters at the state-of-the-art Wilson Aquatic Center, like fixing the showers, getting shower curtains and unclogging the drains, that's apparently up to the D.C. Department of General Services. But somehow, those issues don't seem as important after a great 50-meter swim.
Meanwhile, D.C.'s outdoor pools have opened, which will undoubtedly lure swimmers away from Wilson, opening up those 50-meter lanes even more. In fact, on May 25, Mayor Vincent Gray launched the summer season from a lifeguard's chair, although he doesn't seem ready to take the plunge.