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The iconic Sellwood Pool was the first public swimming pool in the City of Portland

DAVID F. ASHTON - On June 19, the first day of its season, hundreds turned out for an afternoon of aquatic fun at the venerated Sellwood Pool, in upper Sellwood Park, on S.E. 7th Avenue. Just in time for summer, the Sellwood Pool – Portland's first publicly-owned swimming pool, now more than 100 years old – opened on June 19, to the delight of neighbors from all over Inner Southeast Portland.

"We couldn't ask for a better opening day; people have been waiting in anticipation, and we're having a great start to the season," exclaimed Portland Parks & Recreation Assistant Aquatic Supervisor Andy Amato.

They don't just throw the doors open when the season begins, Amato said. "Because it's been closed for eight months, we first have to clean the building from top to bottom, vacuum the pool, pressure-wash the pool deck, stock the concession counter – and make sure everyone knows how to make popcorn!" Amato told THE BEE.

Beyond the physical plant, the Sellwood Pool's crew must first face training, orientation, and making sure everyone is prepared for the new season, he said.

The pre-summer sunshine brought about 300 people to the "Open Swim" session on the afternoon of opening day. But the pool can accommodate 409 people in the water, and more on the pool deck – making it perhaps the highest-capacity pool in the Portland Parks and Recreation system.

"Even so, on a really hot day, we're sad to see that some families may get shut out occasionally, when we're filled to capacity," Amato observed.

When the pool is at capacity there will be fourteen lifeguards around the pool watching, and an additional five or six lifeguards off deck, to rotate the duty positions.

"Safety is our #1 Priority," Amato said. "All our lifeguards have international certification, which includes more than 30 hours in initial training class, and then an additional four hours of training every month to keep up their certification."

So, when a lifeguard blows the whistle, pay attention. "They're not trying to discourage fun, they're trying to make sure that everyone stays safe, and goes home with a smile on their face," explained Amato.

For the schedule of hours, class information, fees – and, yes, even party rental information, go online – www.portlandoregon.gov/Parks/61026

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