The Parks Department kicked off the summer last Wednesday at Astoria Park pool, where Commissioner Mitchell Silver joined local kids for an inaugural swim.
“Whether you’re taking advantage of the summer vacation or you’re squeezing in a few laps after work, New York City parks have free pools throughout the city to beat the heat,” Silver said. “We want everyone to enjoy their summer.”
The city’s 53 outdoor pools opened to the public on June 29. Swimming hours are from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.
This year, the Parks Department extended the season for intermediate and Olympic-sized pools to September 10, one week past its usual end date on Labor Day.
Parks also rolled out its free sunscreen initiative at all outdoor pools. Dispensers will provide broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen, thanks to the American Academy of Dermatology and Sun Shield.
“The minute I came out, I put it over my face, arms and legs,” Silver said. “It’s important to stay protected, particularly in the sun.”
Through the Summer Meals program, kids at 79 parks and pools will also receive free breakfast and lunch throughout the season.
Before diving into the pool, Silver gave several tips to swimmers, including listening to the lifeguards, who will be wearing orange.
“When they blow the whistle, stop what you’re doing and look at them,” he said. “Be sure to follow their directions and do not go into the water when there is no lifeguard on duty.”
For parents, grandparents and other guardians, Silver advised them to never leave children unattended and keep them within arm’s reach while swimming.
Lastly, learn how to swim because it’s “never too late or too early,” he said.
Silver discussed the upcoming improvements at Astoria Park through the $30 million Anchor Parks initiative. The Parks Department is currently restoring the track and field, and will soon redo the paths, install new benches and update Charybdis Playground.
Councilman Costa Constantinides said the park needed the investment.
“We absolutely need that $30 million,” he said, “giving this 60 acres the shine that it needs for the next generation.”
Florence Koulouris, district manager for Community Board 1, estimated that more than 170,000 people use Astoria pool every season.
“Our parks are our backyards,” she said. “Astoria loves this pool.”