After a wait of about four years, the City Heights Swim Center is back – with many upgrades.
The $4.6 million renovation project began in 2018 and faced delays during the pandemic. Upgrades include major renovations to the children’s pool and main pool, as well as the installation of a new water play structure, slide, deck and drainage system.
Four-year-old Manny Vazquez came to the pool with his mother, who was born and raised in City Heights.
Manny said he liked the new swim center and his favorite part was “the bucket coming down” on the play structure.
His mother, Janet Vazquez, watched him from a nearby bench and couldn’t help but smile.
“It means a lot, actually, because growing up here I didn’t have that. So for my kids to have that, it’s just a blessing. It brings so much joy,” Vazquez said. didn’t have access to pools or anything like that. We live in apartments, you know, we live upstairs. So having access to community pools is just amazing.
The mother-of-three said she had already signed her children up for swimming lessons at the public pool.
The City Heights Swim Center will be open three days a week to start: Monday, Wednesday and Sunday.
It’s less than some other pools in town. Pool manager Rae Weber said it was because of a lack of staff.
“It’s been busy,” she said. “Last Sunday I couldn’t let everyone in. We had to suspend admission for a while until some people left because I just didn’t have enough lifeguards to cover the pool safely.”
Weber said the pool is actively trying to hire more staff to open other days of the week.
Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council Speaker Sean Elo-Rivera were joined by San Diego lifeguards, city staff and community members to officially reopen the swim center Friday morning.
San Diego Fire Department lifeguard chief James Gartland said the renovated pool could save lives.
“I look at this pool a little differently. Many people see it as a joyful feeling where you can come for a swim and cool off in the summer. I consider it a lifesaving tool,” Gartland said. “Every person who learns to swim in this pool is a life saved.”
Weber said the city currently has four lifeguards on staff at the City Heights Swim Center, with a maximum capacity of 25 people per lifeguard.
She said the center had to share lifeguards with other pools to keep running.
“We currently share staff with Colina Del Sol Pool. The only reason we’re open three days a week is because their staff come here,” Weber said.
Colina Del Sol Pool is a public facility in City Heights open twice a week.
Although Vazquez lives closer to the other facility, her family will do all they can to come to the newly renovated City Heights Swim Center, as they said the other space needs improvements.