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Imperial Beach residents struggling to find places to swim

Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 12, 2024

Small crowds stroll on the pier at Imperial Beach, but the actual beach itself is nearly empty.

"The ocean being closed because of the pollution is really upsetting and an emotional thing for I think all the locals in Imperial Beach," said Hayden Ball, a teacher at Mar Vista High School.

The water at Imperial Beach has been closed for more than two and a half years because of sewage runoff from the Tijuana river.

As temperatures across the county heat up and summer grows closer, IB residents are left searching for somewhere else to cool off.

Like the local pool at Mar Vista High School.

"The pool here used to be open to seniors and kids all the time," said Kathy Gearhart, an Imperial Beach resident.

But residents say time slots for public swimming are getting shorter.

“We get to use it 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. in the morning,” said Rebecca Webb, an Imperial Beach resident looking for swim lessons. She recently posted about this on Facebook in an Imperial Beach group- gaining over one hundred comments from others about the pool’s situation.

I went online and found the schedule- public swim times are Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 5:30 a.m. - 7:00 a.m.

Saturdays from 6:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m., and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

But that's if you can get a spot on Sunday.

“If you're not on to register right at nine o'clock, you can't get in, it's already booked within 10 minutes because everybody wants the, their kids to learn how to swim and it's too hard to get into a class,” said Webb.

On the pool’s website, it says it’s olympic size and it was made for lap swimming, fitness classes, and swim lessons.

Although the pool is listed on the City of Imperial Beach's website as offering up community access – it is on the campus of Mar Vista High School and has a use agreement with the Sweetwater Union High School District.

I asked the district about the public swim schedule and they said in a statement:

“The Sweetwater District is currently engaged in constructive discussions with the City of Imperial Beach regarding pool usage at Mar Vista High School. Our primary focus, and priority remains the well-being and academic success of our students. Our dedication to providing a high-quality experience and supportive environment for all students remains our top priority. Together, with our external partners we strive to continue having productive dialogue on the best possible educational experiences and resources.”

Rebecca Webb says her three older children learned to swim at the community pool, but she decided for her fourth and youngest kid:

“Pay for a private swim instructor at a friend's pool. That's what we're gonna have to do, go to a friend's house and pay for someone to come over and teach them to swim,” said Webb.