Champaign pools open for summer

Area residents enjoy the Sholem Aquatic Center on Saturday. Susan Kantor

Area residents enjoy the Sholem Aquatic Center on Saturday. Susan Kantor

By Daniel Johnson

A pool may not have been the most ideal spot for the Memorial Day weekend, given the temperatures and rain. But there were plenty who were willing to brave less-than-ideal elements to enjoy the seasonal opening of the Sholem Aquatic Center in Champaign.

Saturday marked the second full year that the pool would operate year-round since its renovation and reopening in 2006. The first day was considerably less populated than years past and provided pool employees an easier opening day.

“It’s gone very smoothly so far,” said one of the pool managers, Mike Kuhlenschmidt, 22. “Given the kind of lower temperatures, this is a pretty slow day as far as what we’re used to in the summer. But it’s actually probably a lot more than what we expected, given it’s only about 70 degrees outside.”

For those who came to the pool, like Shaun Jones, it was more of a representation of summer and time to spend with his family over the weekend.

“We’ve been coming to the pool for years, we’ve had season passes for years,” Jones, 43, of Champaign, said. “It’s just nice to be able to get out here with the family and enjoy the weather, even though it’s not the best. It’s more about summer starting for people, I think.”

Thermometers around the pool consistently read about 71 degrees, but given the mostly cloudy conditions, pool patrons, including Trisha Lange, were bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets. It was a sacrifice that Lange and her husband made for their children.

“I really don’t like to swim a ton, but I can sit here and know that my kids are safe because of the lower-depth areas,” Lange, 36, of Savoy, said. “We can come as a family and enjoy it.”

Lange’s husband, Bryan, 33, echoed his wife’s sentiments about the pool and what it means to their family.

“It probably wouldn’t be my first choice of a thing to do on a day like today,” he said, “But it’s the first today, so you sacrifice some for everyone.”

The children coming and going from the pool shook slightly when the change in temperature shocked their bodies.

“I like that it has slides,” Kaitlyn Lange, 7, said, as her mother wrapped a towel around her, “I like to come here with my friends and go on the slides.”