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Rain keeping swimmers away from pool

Ben Bulkeley
Lifeguard Sarah Kirk watches over the pool Saturday afternoon. Attendance has been down this year because of the weather, employees said.
Hans Hallgren

Most summers, the crew at the city of Craig swimming pool welcomes a little rain.

This is not most summers.

With rainfall totals nearly double the average for June, the only waves at the pool have been from the wind and rain.

Emily Gilchrist, the head pool aide, has worked at the pool for several years. She said she hasn’t seen such little activity as there has been this year.

“Yes, I would say it’s slowed,” she said. “We’ve seen it rain before, but never this bad. Before, it might have been a week (of rain), but never a whole month.”

Usually, the staff appreciates a rainy day, Gilchrist said, because it represents a break.

“Normally, we like the rain – it gives us a chance to relax for a little bit,” Gilchrist said. “Now, we’re just sick of it.”

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, the average June rainfall for Craig is 1.16 inches.

As of last week, Craig had received 2.30 inches.

Because of the rain, less people have showed up to swim.

“We might have had a couple of full days this summer,” Gilchrist said. “Most summers, we might have a couple days of rain.”

Most typical days at the pool have 100 to 200 people, Gilchrist said. Last summer, there were several days when more than 300 people used the pool.

“This year,” she said, “I think we might have had one day when we had over 100 people.”

Pool aide Lisa Ellgen, 18, has worked at the pool for two summers. She said last year was busy almost every day, but this year there hasn’t been nearly as much activity.

“There’s just been a lot of rain, and we haven’t had two busy days in a row,” Ellgen said. “(Friday) has been our first big day.”

With school ending in May, young swimmers typically flock to the pool in the early summer, Gilchrist said.

“June is usually a pretty busy month,” Gilchrist said. “We have Whittle the Wood, which brings a lot of people in.”

Toward the end of the summer, the pool empties, she said.

“In July, you have people going on vacations, and then in August, school is starting,” she said. “June is supposed to be the busy month.”

Attendance isn’t the only area where the pool has taken a hit. One of the pool’s bigger revenue streams, the concession stand, also has taken a hit.

“Usually, we’re selling out of ice cream,” Gilchrist said. “The deliveries are smaller this summer.”

But there has been a different type of ice this summer, as last week’s hail storm shuttered the pool for a few hours.

“We had a snowball fight,” Gilchrist said.

“I made a snowman,” Ellgen added.

The bad weather has had another impact on pool employees. In a typical year, Ellgen would work between 30 and 35 hours a week. This year, she said she might work 20.

“I think, more than last year, I’ve been trying to make up hours,” she said.

Gilchrist said she expected to work 40 hours in a week. So far, she’s been working almost 30.

But the crew weathers the weather.

“It’s usually cold, and we have to sit around and wait,” Ellgen said. “We have swimming lessons regardless of the weather.”


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