2020 Season Important Information & FAQs

(July 9, 2020 update)

This season will be different. Everyone in your family should understand there are a lot of changes to the pool experience. These changes are done to comply with current Montgomery County regulations and to allow us to open the pool in as safe a manner as possible.

We are using a new reservation system, new operational procedures including a new check-in and check-out system, a new cleaning regimen, new staff training, and many other key steps. We will be careful and conservative as we take these initial steps and will closely monitor how the first few weeks of the initial opening are going. The seriousness of this pandemic disease and the rate and ease at which it can spread requires us to do so for the safety of our membership and staff.

Please carefully review these Guidelines & Safety Requirements before you come to the pool. By using the pool facilities you agree to abide by the terms of the Pledge & Waiver.

Key changes include:

  • Reservations are strictly required to use the pool.
  • Face coverings are required when interacting with staff or persons not from your household. You can remove the face mask when you are seated on a chair.
  • There will be limited chairs, do not move them. You may bring your own chairs.
  • Tables are intended for families (three or more people). Do not move tables.
  • The kiddie and intermediate pools are closed per county rules. Unfortunately, children who are not toilet trained are prohibited from entering the main pool.
  • There are no guests allowed at this time. We have limited capacity and we need to be able to account for every person at the pool. Your guest passes will be valid for future use.
  • Photos are required for everyone on your account to complete their electronic ID. Upload a head shot in advance or have the guards take a picture when the gatehouse is not busy.
  • At this time, pizza and other food deliveries are prohibited.
  • The water fountains are not in service. Bring your own plastic bottle for personal use.
  • Take all your personal items and belongings when you leave. There is no “Lost & Found” as we cannot store any forgotten clothing or towels at the pool and anything left at closing will be discarded.

That’s a lot to take in so below are some FAQs that should help. But it’s important you understand these changes so you can get the most out of the 2020 pool season.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please email MerrimackPool@gmail.com.

 

I am confused about the 2 payments this summer. Why is payment split into 2 installments?

We decided on two phases of payment, with the first being an assessment fee to pay for pool maintenance and fixed costs, whether or not we were able to open. This payment will also ensure that you have kept your swim privileges for next year.

The second payment is the “summer dues” for pool use. While optional, we hope that a majority of our families will choose to support and patronize the pool, even with its more limited offerings based on necessary COVID-19-related restrictions.

Are there still going to be lap lanes?

Yes, in addition to early bird lap swim and evening lap swim, 3 lap lanes will be available at all times. The lap lanes – also called “swim zones” – can be used by a solo swimmer or, between 11:00am-7:00pm, can be shared by up to 3 family members. This allows families to keep in a private swim zone, and will allow parents with small children to safely accompany them.

Here’s an example:

  • The Maniac family would like 3 members to share a lap lane/swim zone.
  • Mary Maniac reserves a lap lane/swim zone.
  • To add Missy Maniac and Mikey Maniac, Mary reserves them each a slot under “open swim” for the same time increment.
  • YES, the open swim is a 2-hour increment whereas the lap lane/swim zone is only 1-hour. That means that Missy and Mikey can stay at the pool for the extra hour, or they can all leave together at the end of the 1-hour lap lane/swim zone use.

How many lap lanes will there be?

There will be 7 lap lanes for ‘early bird’ adult swim 6:30am -7:30am and then at the end of the day from 7:00pm-8:00pm and 8:00 pm-9:00 pm for adult swimmers only. From 11:00am- 7:00pm there will be 3 lap lines. These all must be reserved.

Why have you decided to have an ‘open swim’ part of the pool?

The County guidelines evolved into permitting open swim, with headcount/capacity restrictions. In an effort to offer as robust an experience as possible, we have included an ‘open swim’ option by reservation to accompany the reservation of lanes/swim zones. We hope that the flexibility to choose either a ‘reserved lane/zone’ or the ‘open swim’ zone will provide the most options to the most users possible, while safely operating within County guidelines.

We have limited the number to 65 reservations (which includes swimmers who will use the lap zones and dive well, and it is significantly below permissible capacity under county phase 2 guidelines). We ask that families make sure that they practice social distancing and if kids play with friends, they need to monitor this. ‘Open Swim’ must also be reserved even if you intend for your family member to be swimming in the lane/swim zone with you. (An “open swim” reservation can also be used for family members in the dive well.)

How long can I swim in a lap lane?

Since these proved to be our most popular swimming option, we have decided to make lap lanes for one hour. In actual fact, it will be 45 minutes of swim. So, if you book a lane at 11:00am you may swim 11:00am-11:45am and then the lifeguards will then wipe down all the ‘high touch’ surfaces.

How long can I swim in ‘open swim’?

You can reserve ‘open swim’ for 2 hours, but you will need to exit the pool after 1 hour 45 minutes for cleaning at the end of the session.

Can very young children be part of ‘open swim’?

Yes, but only children who are toilet trained and do not wear diapers. Consistent with state pool regulations, diapers are not permitted in the main pool.

Are there any restrictions in the ‘open swim’ area?

This year, we are not going to allow pool toys, for example, inflatable balls, that may get in the way of other swimmers. Again, we ask for families to monitor their kids and help them practice safe social distancing and mask wearing.

Will the diving boards be open for use?

The diving well and diving boards will be open from 11:00am-3:00pm, and must be reserved in advance. Please note we can only accommodate 2 families (of up to 4 members each) in the dive well. If you want to share the dive well with other family members, reserve 1 slot in the dive well then up to 3 other family members should be signed up for the ‘open swim’ slots. These other family members can use both the dive well and the main pool.

The dive well may also be reserved during the adult swim sessions 6:30am-7:15am Monday-Friday, 10:00am-10:45am Saturday and Sunday, and 7:00pm-9:00pm daily. Reserve a dive well slot if you would like to swim “hotel pool” laps, tread water, or do other deep water aerobic exercise. The dive well may be reserved as a “waitlist” area to split the time with another swimmer with a lap lane reservation.

How does the reservation system work?

  • The reservation site works well on mobile devices and any computer browser except Internet Explorer and Edge.
  • The Account Holder has the 1 login for your family. You must be logged in to your pool account to view the Reservation Calendar. Be sure to toggle down to the desired “Facility” using the pull-down at the top left of the calendar (above Sunday) to view all swim options.
  • There’s a Cancel button on the reservation calendar that is for cancelling an in-progress reservation if you change your mind.
  • Once a reservation is confirmed, you can view it in the My Reservations tab in your account. Existing reservations may be cancelled from the My Reservations tab. There is also a Cancel a Reservation link on the website menu. You can now cancel one family member in your reservation without having to cancel and rebook your entire group. To substitute a family member, uncheck the name of the person not going to the pool then check the name of the person who will use the slot. Remember, the 3 slots per person limit cannot be shared among family members.
  • As a courtesy to other swimmers, please be sure to cancel reservations if you find that you cannot use them. The front desk can also help if you call in advance 301-229-6579.
  • Daily Guest Passes may not be used. Due to capacity restrictions we are not admitting non-member guests this season. We must have a record of everyone and their contact information on the premises should COVID tracing be necessary. If you have a caregiver who brings your children to the pool, please select Manage Account, Make a Payment from the website menu. The information for your caregiver can be entered there. Guest passes will remain on your account for future seasons.
  • The reservation periods will open up each Saturday night for the following week at approximately 10:00pm (the time is approximate because it is a manual process). Please note that there is a limit of 3 reservations for each family member for each week. If you go over the limit, there may be penalties. We do know it can be difficult to reserve in advance when it is the season of unpredictable weather, but please be patient and understand that reservations may not be rebooked due to weather or other closures.
  • You may hover over a time slot to view the availability. Select the family member(s) and confirm your reservation. You can view or cancel your reservations on the My Reservations tab of your account.
  • If you cannot make the time you reserved, do cancel it right away. There are always members looking for open slots to swim.

Will I have deck space?

There will be one deck chair for each lap lane and several deck chairs for ‘open swim’ families or individuals. They will be spaced apart from each other and the chairs should not be moved.

What is the new protocol to enter the pool?

We need to have every name of every pool member entering the pool. We will need to make sure that every family agrees to the COVID-19 waiver. There will be a very strict entrance policy – no wandering in. All kids under the age of 12 will need to have one adult or caregiver present at all times. Families may not bring guests–we must make sure that pool members get priority this year.

Can I use the showers?

Unfortunately, no. We will allow emergency bathroom use, but we will not be permitting shower or changing room use. Please come to the pool ready to swim and exit wearing your swim gear. This is a necessary restriction to help maintain safe and sanitary conditions, to help us transition more quickly from one time slot to another, and to maintain social distancing.

How about weather and other closures?

Reserved times will not be adjusted for weather or other unexpected closures. If staff must close the pool unexpectedly for any weather or other reason, members may be asked to leave the pool for the remainder of their reserved time. Unlike prior years when we were able to have patrons wait out a thunder warning in the bathhouse, we will need to clear the entire pool area – not just the pool deck. We will Tweet whenever there is an issue with thunder closing the pool, just look for the Twitter feed on the pool website and our twitter handle is @Merrimack_Pool.

What cleaning measures will be taken?

Maintaining a clean, safe pool property is among our highest concerns. We will have the bathrooms, deck chairs, and high touch surfaces (such as railings) professionally cleaned each day before opening. During the course of the day, pool staff will clean the bathrooms, deck chairs, and high touch surfaces at the end of each reservation block so they are clean and ready for the next reservation block users. All cleaning and disinfecting will be by use of hydrogen peroxide-based or other CDC-approved germicidal product(s).

Is this the blueprint for the summer, or will you be changing as the weeks pass?

We spent considerable time and effort crafting this plan and hope it will be successful. But we will continue to assess conditions and make adjustments as needed. If we are able to increase offerings, such as to offer group swim and/or dive practices, we will advise accordingly. Bear with us, none of us has been through a pandemic!

Why am I not getting an immediate response to my email?

The Pool Board is a group of volunteers, and due to the significant time spent in creating and implementing our operation plan, as well as the high volume of emails received, individual responses are not always possible in short order. We are hoping these FAQs will help.

Other than show up and have fun, what do we need to do while at the pool?

Thank you for asking! We ask – and expect – everyone to be good Merrimack citizens. Be patient as we work out this new plan. Be courteous to staff, who will be working harder than ever to maintain a safe and comfortable pool and pool deck. As in the past, their primary duty is to safeguard pool users. Please honor our new safety practices, as agreed to in the online pledge, including safe social distancing, and the use of face masks when walking the pool deck and socializing with unrelated pool patrons.

Thank you for your patience while we all learn these new systems and procedures!