“It's always exciting to see the sparkling pools and fountains in use again... after a long winter!”

Summer heat is in the forecast, and that means that the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center (MRAC) is getting ready to open their outdoor pools for the season. MRAC will welcome members and guests to the outside swimming areas beginning on May 16.

The outdoor pool area is adjacent to the grass lawn of Swanny City Park, and benefits from the shade of some of the park’s cottonwood trees. There is plenty of sun, too, shining on the full-length outdoor lap pool and the shallow play pool.

A feature sculpted to resemble the surrounding red rock canyons provides waterfalls and slides for kids and adults splashing in the play pool. Off one corner of the lap pool, there is a circular pool with a flowing current. Casual drifters can relax with the flow; at other times, water aerobics classes use it as a resistance tool.

During the first couple of weeks of the outdoor pool season, MRAC will host “end-of-school swim days.”

Each grade from the elementary school will have a few hours to enjoy the pool, free of charge as an academic year-end treat. MRAC also offers this perk to some area preschools, the Moab Charter School, and schools from Monticello and La Sal.

“It’s just great to see the kids come and enjoy the pool with their classmates and teachers,” said Terry Lewis, the center’s director.

All this activity will keep the staff busy, but Lewis said that after years of practice, they have the seasonal shift under control. They are in the process of training new life guards, and have been preparing for the opening date well in advance.

“We’ve been through our ‘summerization’ routine for seven years now, and have it down pretty pat,” Lewis said. “We start cleaning the outdoor pools and pool area and performing any necessary repairs as soon as weather permits in order to have the pools filled and balanced, the rock slide polished and waxed and everything ready to go for our target opening date. So we’re pretty relaxed, although it’s always exciting to see the sparkling pools and fountains in use again and poolside tables and lounges occupied again after a long winter!”

One thing that will be new this summer are outdoor sessions with the Wibit inflatable obstacle course that the MRAC recently acquired. The Wibit is a series of large floating pool toys that link together to make a kind of inflatable playground. It’s been installed in the indoor pool and is open to the public for several hours each week this winter and spring, and during the summer season, a partial configuration of the Wibit will be available in the outdoor pool a couple of days each week.

Now is the time for parents to register their kids for summer swimming lessons. The first session starts the week right after school gets out. There are three sessions and each is 10 days long, and they are available for all levels of swimmers, from preschoolers and up. For kids who are already enthusiastic swimmers, Recreational Swim Club begins in June and continues through July.

Moab resident Marcy Mason takes her two daughters to the MRAC frequently. Rather than signing them up for lessons, she and her husband taught them how to swim in the waters of the MRAC pool and Ken’s Lake. Now, ages nine and four, the two girls love swimming.

Lylee, the youngest, is just starting to swim underwater, though she still wears flotation devices. Asked if the kids are excited for the outdoor pool to open, Mason answered in the affirmative.

“They can’t wait,” she said. “My youngest begs me to go to the pool every day. I, for one, don’t enjoy the indoor. I would much rather be outside, but in the winter we go to the indoor pool at least once a week, as there isn’t much to do here during the winter months … so in short, yes, they are so excited for the outdoor pool to open up.”

Once the outdoor pools are open for use, Mason said she usually takes her daughters there two or three times a month.

“I am looking forward to the 100-plus days (of heat) — makes the water days that much better, I think!” she said.

Outdoor pools open May 16

“It’s always exciting to see the sparkling pools and fountains in use again… after a long winter!”

When: Wednesday, May 16

Where: Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center, 374 North Park Avenue

Cost: $5 for adult residents; $2 for youth; age 3 and under free

Info: moabrecreation.com