With the blistering hot days of summer on their way, Walla Walla residents will likely be looking for a place to swim — and to learn how. While the city lacks a municipal pool, there are several options in the Valley offering free and low-cost swim lessons to area children.
“I think it’s really important for people to learn how to swim,” said Patsy Adams, who chairs the Prescott Parks and Recreation District board.
When she was a child growing up in Prescott, the city had no pool yet and her mom didn’t have time to take her to the nearest one in Waitsburg. As a result, she never learned how to swim.
“Because I’m still afraid of the water and still can’t swim, I feel very strongly about the importance of children learning to swim when they are young,” she said in an email. “Several water deaths in our area last year only made me want to work harder to accomplish that goal.”
Both Prescott and Waitsburg’s pools offer free swim lessons to residents. Non-residents can take lessons at Prescott’s pool for a small cost, and the Milton-Freewater pool also offers lessons for a fee.
For those who already know how to swim, each pool has a variety of swim events planned for the summer, ranging from water aerobics to barbecue nights.
Following is a look at schedules, lessons and special events for area pools.
Location: Jefferson Park, Ninth Avenue and Malcolm Street.
Opens: June 17
Hours: 12:30-4:30 daily
Admission: $1, with free admission on Saturdays
While not a full pool, this city-operated facility provides children under 10 with an opportunity to swim and offers beginner lessons for children just getting familiar with water. Classes will be held in two week sessions starting June 24 for $35. For details visit wwpr.us.
Walla Walla YMCA
Location: 340 S. Park St.
Opens: Swim lessons begin June 17
While the YMCA pool is generally open only to members, non-member children from 6 months to 12 years can take swim lessons over the summer via a program participation fee. Lessons are offered in five-week blocks for children up to age 3, and in two week blocks for children 3 and older. Youth classes cost $48 with an existing family membership, $53 with an existing youth membership and $96 with no membership. For details visit wwymca.org.
Walla Walla University
Location: Lessons registration at the Winter Educational Complex, Fourth Street and Davis Avenue.
Opens: Swim lessons begin June 17
Hours: General swim daily except Saturday, 2-4 p.m. Closes at 3:30 Friday.
The WWU pool offers children’s lessons and is also open to the public for a summer membership fee. Lessons are offered in two-week sessions, with registration the Wednesday before the week lessons begin. A two-week session of half-hour lessons costs $45, with a 10 percent discount for a second child in the same family.
Summer pool passes are also available. The cost is $35 for an individual, $45 for a pair of immediate family members, or $60 for a family. Lap swims are held daily from 6-7:30 a.m. and noon-1:30 p.m., except Saturdays.
Joe Humbert Family Aquatic Center
Location: 200 Dehaven (Southwest Second and Dehaven)
Hours: Public swim daily from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5:30-8 p.m.
Admission: Adults $5; younger than 18, $3.50
More than just a pool, the center offers a three-story water slide, water toys, covered shelter, concession stands and a sand volleyball court. Every Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30 is barbecue night, with a hamburger, cheeseburger or grilled chicken sandwich for $6. Morning water aerobics classes and a daily 4:15-5:15 p.m. lap swim are also on the schedule.
In addition to general swim sessions, lessons are available for children age 3 and older. Lessons run 30 minutes per day for two weeks and cost $30 per child per session. For more information, including a schedule of events and lessons, check out mfcity.com/aquatic or call (541) 938-9166.
The city of Milton-Freewater also offers a free bus to and from College Place and Walla Walla. A schedule and list of stops is available on the website and also is posted at the Valley Transit stop on Main Street in downtown Walla Walla.
Location: Highway 124 at B Street
Opens: Monday, June 17
Hours: Public swim 2-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-7 p.m. Friday-Sunday
Admission: Adults $4; younger than 18, $3; children younger than 5 free with paying adult
Perhaps less well known than its neighbor in Waitsburg, Prescott’s pool is also slightly larger, with a diving board and slide, and a new ADA lift to assist patrons with difficulties entering the pool. The pool opened in 1958, and is currently funded by the Prescott Joint Parks and Recreation district. It relies on an annual, voter-approved levy to fund operations.
The pool offers lessons from 11 a.m.-noon on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Lessons run two weeks and are free to children living in Zip code 99348, courtesy of a Northwest Grain Growers grant. Outside the area pay $25 for the lessons. Adult water aerobics and lap swim is also available weekdays at 7 p.m. for $4.
The pool and neighboring Field View Park will feature several special summer events, including a karaoke night on June 20 and music in the park on June 30. For more details visit the pool’s website at pjprd.org or call (509) 849-2314.
Location: 128 E. First St.
Opens: Monday, June 10
Hours: Public swim weekdays from 1-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Admission: $1.50 daily, season passes $35 individual/$70 family
Waitsburg’s municipal pool was rebuilt after a flood in 1996, with help from the Lions Club. It is open weekdays for general use, with an adult lap swim from 5-6 p.m. The pool is funded by the city, which spends about $20,000 annually on operations and maintenance.
Summer swim lessons are available free for Waitsburg children through an endowment provided by the Hevel Family in Waitsburg. Lessons will run for a single three-week session, likely beginning in July. Season passes can be bought at City Hall. For schedules and more details, call City Hall at (509) 337-6371.
Rachel Alexander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-526-8363.