Here’s one sure sign summer is coming: Make A Splash has already handed out 599 free swimsuits to children who can’t afford to purchase their own – and the nonprofit organization has 500 more on the way.
“We give away swimsuits in the city and in the county,” said Heather Beebe-Stevens, executive director of the Parks Foundation which runs the Make A Splash in a Kid’s Life campaign.
Last year, Make A Splash gave out almost 2,000 swimsuits, Beebe-Stevens said.
“This is so important because if you don’t have a swimsuit you can’t go in the pool,” she added.
Citywide splash pads are already open and Spokane’s public pools open on June 16. The county’s north and south aquatics facilities open on June 13 and Spokane Valley’s three outdoor pools open on June 14.
Make A Splash also hands out free swim passes to low-income children and Beebe-Stevens said there are never enough to go around.
“Last year we gave out 2,200 passes and still left 540 children on the waiting list,” Beebe-Stevens said. “We hope to get to everyone this year.”
Swim passes will be distributed at the Salvation Army, 222 E. Indiana Ave. on June 7.
Beebe-Stevens said that people started lining up for swim passes at 6 a.m. at last year’s event.
“Doors opened at 9 a.m., and the passes were gone in 45 minutes,” she said.
Make A Splash works with city and county aquatics programs as well as with Spokane Valley and Cheney. The pools keep track of the individual passes and only charge Make A Splash for actual usage, Beebe-Stevens said.
“Our costs are a little lower this year, so we hope we can cover everyone,” Beebe-Stevens said, “but we need more donations to do so.”
There are other deals available to stretch the summer budget: The city of Spokane’s Aquatics Program is offering 50 percent off swim lessons at its least busy pools which are A.M. Cannon, Hillyard and Liberty Pool.
“It doesn’t matter where you live as long as you can get to this pool,” said Carl Strong, recreation supervisor for Spokane Parks and Recreation. “We looked at a couple of areas where attendance just tanked and decided to try and do something about it.”
Strong said city pools are also adding teen nights at the Hillyard Pool on June 27, July 11, Aug. 1 and Aug. 15.
“Pool attendance by teens is nonexisting,” Strong said. “They just don’t want to go when everyone else is there.” The teen night will feature pizza and beverages for purchase as well as music and maybe other sports.
“We want to try it in one place this summer and see if we can get a consistent program going,” Strong said.
City pools are also reaching out to seniors and senior centers offering a senior swim time during swim lessons. The lessons only take up part of the pools, Strong explained, leaving a large area free for seniors to use.
“It makes it easier for them to swim and not get splashed by everyone else,” Strong said.