Mingus Park Pool

A group of lap swimmers take their turn in the Mingus Park Pool on a sunny morning last week. 

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COOS BAY — Kathe McNutt thought she was going to be able to open Mingus Park’s pool when Oregon went into its Phase 1 reopening. She had to wait a little longer, until Phase 2, but the pool has been busy as can be ever since.

McNutt was able to open up the pool to lap swimmers and also to add some lessons, while keeping in place rules about social distancing. Add in both her Gold Coast Swim Team and the neighboring South Coast Aquatic Team, which isn’t able to swim in the North Bend Municipal Pool because it’s still closed, and the pool is going for hours every weekday and most of Saturday.

The opening has probably been most felt by the community members from up and down the South Coast who are taking part in lap swim, one per lane in one-hour time slots.

“Monday through Friday, we have nine hours straight of lap swim,” she said, adding that every lane is booked from 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

“If we have a cancel, we try to call people (on the waiting list),” said McNutt, who does all the scheduling.

In addition to swimmers from Coos Bay and North Bend, she is getting a lot of swimmers from Bandon and Coquille.

“They are just so appreciative of us being open,” McNutt said.

Some of the lap swimmers try to get in an hour every day. Most aim for at least a few days a week. All have the same perspective.

“It’s just a blessing,” said Tracy Fromm of Coos Bay. “I really appreciate Kathe and the staff and all they are doing to make it work.”

Fromm tries to swim five days a week and said he missed the pool being open during the early portion of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was 30 pounds of missing,” Fromm said with a laugh, referring to weight he said he gained that he is now trimming again.

“I’m really grateful they were able to open it up,” he said. “The extra sacrifice they have done has made it appreciated by everybody.”

Miriam Zomerschoe was a regular swimmer at North Bend who now is at Mingus Park three or four days a week.

“To be able to come over here is a lifesaver,” she said. “It’s super nice when you come here to have a lane.”

She added she hopes North Bend is able to reopen soon for more than just personal reasons. She helps people with rehabilitation from injuries and swimming can be a big part of that.

“With North Bend closed, it’s hard,” she said.

McNutt likes to serve the lap swimmers, but she’s especially happy to be able to provide some lessons, even if it’s a challenge. Each instructor is limited to one swimmer at a time and must wear a face shield.

Fortunately, the pool has been able to offer free lessons in 30-minute sessions for 90 minutes on weeknights, courtesy of Advanced Health, which pays for them.

Every free lesson has been booked through the month of August, but McNutt said some form of lessons will be offered in September. Parents can call and request their children be put on a waiting list for that time period.

The pool also offers weekend lessons, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., with a cost of $15 for 30 minutes.

“I’m just glad to get something going for the kids,” McNutt said. “The parents are extremely happy. It’s super safe and easy to control.”

On weekdays, McNutt also has time at the pool reserved for both her Gold Coast Swim Team and SCAT.

Close to 70 swimmers from the two teams are taking part.

“The kids have been really good,” McNutt said.

For more information about the pool’s hours or lessons or to try to schedule a time for lap swim, those interested can call the pool at 541-267-1360.

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