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Testing the waters at the new Rifle Metro Pool

Staff makes final preparation as the new Rifle Metro Pool is set to open up for patrons starting Monday

Residents passing through the intersection of Railroad Avenue and East Eighteenth Street might have noticed that hustle and bustle around the new Rifle Metro Pool has picked up in the last few weeks.

The approximately $8 million facility replaces the old Art Dague Pool, which served the western Garfield County community for a half-century, and is set to open to the public at limited capacity Monday with tickets available online at https://utetheater.simpletix.com/e/54543.

Ryley Sackett, Zoey Pierce, Taylee Richards, and Lydia Dye practice their CPR as they prep for certification as part of the lifeguard tests for the Rifle Metro Pool. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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The new facility adds a six-lane lap pool, zero-depth entry leisure pool with flow channel, and a family whirlpool to the existing water slide and plunge pool.

The city and county came to an agreement on guidelines to open the pool after the county was granted a variance from the state of Colorado, allowing outdoor pools to reopen with reduced capacity, timed sessions with rotations and proper social distancing.

Jessica Wilson, aquatics manager at Rifle Metro Pool, works with new lifeguards as they do through water skills tests. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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Aquatics manager Jessica Wilson has been spending time running a new crew of lifeguards through training including instructional videos, water skills tests, written tests, advanced CPR classes and final scenario drills.

“Two weeks ago we started doing pre-course work and getting new lifeguards in the pool,” Wilson said. “We have about 25 potential new guards, due to social distancing we’ve had to group them out in groups of nine.”

Returning guards from last year will be back in the facility this week as they train new additions to the facility including the play structure and zero-depth pool. Wilson said one of the keys to this week’s training is finding any blind spots in the new facility from the seven different guard stations setup around the pool.

Crews work to install sod around the pool deck Wednesday morning at Rifle Metro Pool. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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“We’ve added all the new structures that none of them have been trained on yet. We have never had a zero-depth entry, so now we have to add different certifications to all of the lifeguards,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of a whole new learning process right now.”

Austin Rickstrew, recreation coordinator of aquatics, is spending the crunch time getting the grounds prepped and ready for customers next week, training the staff on the systems it takes to run the new state of art facility.

Rifle Metro Pool management, from left, Colby Renoir, assistant manager, Tom Whitmore, parks and recreation director, Jessica Wilson, aquatics manager, Austin Rickstrew, recreation coordinator of aquatics, Shannon McKee, office manager, and Justin Blankey, pool manager. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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“It is a curve ball because we have to train our staff on all of this new stuff, but we also have to learn it at the same time,” Rickstrew said.

Crews laid sod around the pool deck this week, and more than 200 deck chairs that were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic are due by the end of the week.

With the reduced capacity Rickstrew said they will be limited to 75 patrons during each one hour and 45 minute session. Between each session staff members will disinfect the pool deck, chairs, and tables.

Luke Dunbar and Caleb Gieselman practice pulling a training manikin from the pool during lifeguard training at the new Rifle Metro Pool. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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The new pool’s maximum capacity is 550.

“The highest we can go under the current order is 175,” Rickstrew said. “That give us room to wiggle and we can add more people, but another thing that is going to be new for the public is they have to buy their tickets ahead of time.”

The new pool has state of the art light system for the facility to host events in the evening. (Kyle Mills / Citizen Telegram)
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With the limited time that patrons can enjoy the facility management has changed the operation hours of the pool, opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. with Monday through Friday. Daily schedules will include water aerobics, lap swimming, water walking, toddler time and open swim. Saturday hours will run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and include lap swimming, water walking, and open swim. Sunday hour will run from noon- 6 p.m.

For a complete schedule and sessions break down visit https://www.rifleco.org/90/Rifle-Metro-Pool.

kmills@postindependent.com


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