2020 Season Important Information & FAQs
(August 31, 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.
- 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?
Three lap lanes will be available at all times.
How many lap lanes will there be?
Beginning Monday, August 31, pool hours will be Weekdays 3:00pm-8:00pm and Weekends 10:00am-7:00pm. Because of the beginning of Montgomery County Public Schools and the resulting effect on our pool staff, we are unable to offer early bird or to open earlier on weekdays.
Adult Swim slots will be 30-minutes from 3:00pm-4:00pm and 7:00pm-8:00pm on weekdays and 10:00am-11:00am and 6:00pm-7:00pm on weekends.
Open Swim and Dive Well slots will be 1-hour each weekday 4:00pm-7:00pm and on the weekends 11:00am-6:00pm.
All slots must be reserved. You may book back-to-back slots but they will be counted against your weekend and weekly limits.
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, while safely operating within County guidelines.
We have limited the number to 65 reservations (which includes swimmers who will use the Dive Well or just sit on the deck, 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.
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 no more than 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. Due to the high demand for lap lanes, the first and last hour reservation slots will be for 30 minutes each daily. For these slots it’s actually 25 minutes of swim, again so the lifeguards can clear the pool and clean.
How long can I swim in ‘open swim’?
You can reserve ‘open swim’ which is now one hour long for back-to-back slots, but you will need to exit the pool after each 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 board slots will be 1-hour each weekday 4:00pm-7:00pm and on the weekends 11:00am-6:00pm, 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. 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 per person limits 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).
- Beginning on Saturday at 10:00pm through Sunday, you may make up to 3 reservations per week per swimmer. As of Monday, you may make Same-Day reservations, up to a limit of 7 total reservations in a week; this 7 includes the up-to-3 reservations made prior to Monday. Reservations beyond these limits will be cancelled so check the My Reservations tab on your account management page to confirm the reservations you are holding real-time.
- You may book back-to-back slots but those will each count against your weekend and weekly limits.
- 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 bathhouse?
We will allow emergency bathroom use but swimmers are encouraged to shower at home. 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. 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!