The Franklin mom knows what to expect when she takes her girls to the city pool: clean play areas, attentive lifeguards, a full parking lot and zero beach chairs if she arrives after noon.
Cadie Werden takes her daughters Gracie, 6, and Karlie, 3, to the Franklin pool about every other day during the summer, and she said she expects the place to be crowded when the sun shines.
And this year, attendance is up. Hot days and fewer rainstorms than in 2013 have attracted plenty of swimmers, Franklin parks director Chip Orner said.
For the whole summer in 2013, the pool had attendance of 59,610. As of Tuesday, the pool has attracted 18,050 swimmers this year, on track to beat last year’s attendance by thousands if the crowds and weather stay steady.
During the first 10 days the pool was open, the aquatic center earned $88,000 — or $53,000 more than the first 10 days of 2013 — from day passes and memberships.
Mid-June is when the pool draws the most people, and Tuesday was the biggest day so far, with 2,045 swimmers, Orner said.
On June 1, the pool was so busy that visitors had to wait in line until other swimmers left, he said. That day, a total of 1,847 swam or sunbathed. That’s busier than last year, when the busiest day before June 17 had 1,432 pool visitors.
Local camps and clubs bring their children to the pool, also adding to attendance. For example, about 100 children from the Greenwood parks summer camp go to the Franklin pool once a week. Nearly 300 kids total from the Boys & Girls Club of Franklin, Girls Inc. and the Franklin parks summer camp also head to the pool regularly, Orner said. Day cares bring children, too, but in smaller groups, he said.
Orner has gotten only one complaint about crowding. He lets the pool manager decide when to call in extra lifeguards based on the number of swimmers he sees.
The state requires the pool to have one lifeguard on duty for about every 75 people, but the Franklin pool goes beyond that, he said. The pool keeps 13 lifeguards out on quiet days, and more than 18 when the crowd gets big. Orner said lifeguards are assigned to watch the wading pool, even thought state law doesn’t require it.
Becca McCart of Greenwood went to the pool with two friends one afternoon this week because Franklin’s pool is the closest to where she lives. It was her second visit to the pool, and she didn’t expect to find no chairs available for sitting by the pool.
Next time, she said, she might call ahead to ask what the crowds are like or show up right when the pool opens so she and her friends can get beach chairs.
The pool has 250 deck chairs, up from 40 two years ago and has no immediate plan to buy more, Orner said. Residents with pool memberships can go to the pool before it opens to get a chair, he said.
But he warned: They’re full every day.
Orner said the main problem he hears about when the pool gets busy is with parking.
The crowds have been a topic of discussion among pool visitors this week.
Best friends Marla Summers of Nineveh and Tammy Hicks of Indianapolis were surprised by the crowds.
They bring their grandchildren to Franklin’s pool and in the past have come to the pool on weekends. After seeing Wednesday’s crowd, they’ll try weekends again, Summers said.
She said that, when the pool is busy, the older kids in the children’s area accidentally knock over the younger swimmers or splash them in the eyes.
But the children’s play area at Perry Park in Indianapolis, one of the other southside swimming options, isn’t as nice. Franklin’s kiddie pool, water slide and buckets that dump water on children’s heads appeal to their families, Summers said. The Franklin pool also offers small life jackets for children to use for free, she said.
So they are willing to experiment with going to the pool on different days to find when it’s not as crowded, she said.
“This is a great place,” she said.
Beech Grove resident Tami Blackwell went to the pool for first time this week. Her daughter liked the water slides, she said, and they’ll probably come back.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a public pool that’s this crowded,” Blackwell said.