The popular Marie Reed Indoor Pool in Adams-Morgan has been closed, forcing dozens of summer swimming programs into other facilities, after a swimmer was cut on a broken tile there, city officials said.
A man swimming laps on May 15 received a cut that required several stitches, according to aquatics chief Lorn Hill. The next day Hill ordered the pool, which has 47,000 visitors a year, closed for an overhaul to include repair of all underwater tile. The pool could open by mid-July, Hill said.
"It was a hazard, and I didn't want anyone else getting hurt," he said.
The unscheduled closing of the busy Northwest pool was the second in two months among 10 indoor city pools and a major blow to summer swimming programs.
Last month the city closed until Sept. 20 the Capital East Natatorium, the city's most popular indoor pool on Capitol Hill with 175,000 visitors a year.
Even before the closings, practice times for indoor-pool programs, which have been growing in popularity, was at a premium, say city recreation officials. Water walking and water polo programs especially have expanded in recent years. And almost everyone's preference is to use the pools between 5 and 8 p.m., Hill said.
"Everyone is fighting for space . . . I probably could keep the natatorium open round-the-clock," he said.
Swimmers in competitive sports who rely on regular practices at nearby pools have been particularly hurt by the two closings.
But Hill said he was able to accommodate most teams and programs either in outdoor pools before and after public swimming periods or at one of the other indoor pools.
To accommodate a small group that regularly swims before work at the natatorium, public swimming hours have recently been expanded at the Randall Pool in Southwest to include 6:30 to 9 a.m. sessions Tuesday through Friday.
A synchronized swimming team that has practiced at Reed now works out in the evenings at the Wilson High School pool. And a water polo team for gays has moved its practices to Dunbar Pool.
The District's 44 pools, including 34 outdoor pools get a workout in summer, Hill said. Between 8,000 and 12,000 swimmers are using the city's pools at any given hour.