After an unexpected one month delay due to a heat exchanger replacement, the Strathmore Aquatic Centre will be open once again on November 1 at 7:00 am!

While the extra month closed due to the heat exchanger wasn't planned, there was a planned annual shutdown for September for maintenance. Aquatic Centre Manager Natasha Barron explained the annual shutdown is important for the pool to make sure all the equipment is up to standard.

"We replace all of our chlorine lines and our acid lines in our system, replace all our standard pumps. This year, we degreased all of our sand filtration system. So we have three filters on the hot tub, and one filter on the kiddie pool and two on the lap pool. So we take that time to do a degreasing procedure, just to degrease the sand, give it a deep cleaning and things like that. This year, we also drained the pool so we could go down and do an investigation," she said.

While the annual shutdown is a chance to handle all the big maintenance items like those, Barron explained that's only part of their year long maintenance schedule.

"We send in weekly water tests to the provincial lab every week to make sure that our water chemistry is good, there's no bacteria, things like that. Behind the scenes, there's a huge maintenance program that we do to have healthy waters. We also backwash our systems, we clean lint traps we do dump and fills for high total dissolved solids. There's a whole big procedure that we do behind the scenes."

Since the pool was closed for an additional month, Barron said they took that opportunity to catch up on administrative work and retraining staff.

"We also took this time to review all of our staff binders, our safety supervision plan, our admission policies, our lifeguarding procedures, guarding rotation, all of those things. And then we're essentially retraining all the staff back. We've spent that time the past six weeks already doing the classroom part of it. And as of Friday, we started in the pool training with staff. So that's another big piece that we took on during this this closing time.

Now that the pool is open again, Barron said regular programming will be starting up right away! She said the Silver Sharks and school programming starts tomorrow, while the water polo club will start on Thursday. However, lessons done by the Town of Strathmore will be delayed until around February. This is because the program is transitioning from the Canadian Red Cross Swim Program to the Life Saving Society Program.

As the pool gets readjusted to running full capacity, Barron said it might take some time before we see a full schedule. She explained the lifeguard industry was hit hard by covid, so they are short staffed. During the shutdown time Barron was able to hire 12 new lifeguards, but it will take some time to get them fully up to speed with Strathmore's aquatic regulations and training. While the schedule may look a bit empty now, it won't be too long until the pool is back to the way it used to be!

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