Public swimming pools were a popular place for people trying to stay cool in Lake County during last week's heat wave, a Daily Herald survey showed.
Attendance figures at some pools were up dramatically for the first week of July, compared to the same period in 2011. Gurnee's Hunt Club Park aquatic center saw attendance jump 32 percent year-to-year, aquatic manager Scott Crowe said.
Attendance at Lake County swimming pools increased during last week's heat wave, compared with the same week in 2011. Here's a samplingPool 2012 2011
Family Aquatic Center (VH) 5,217 5,102
Adler (Lib.) 3,459 3,449
Riverside (Lib.) 849 661
Barefoot Bay (Mund.) 8,867 8,666
Hunt Club Park (Gurnee) 10,136 7,669
Source: Daily Herald interviews
The record-tying three days of 100-degree temperatures -- not to mention the other days in the 90s -- definitely drove people to the pool, with 1,962 customers going through the gates on Friday alone, Crowe said.
"That's my business in a nutshell," he said.
The spike in attendance means extra income for the park districts or departments that operate the pools.
At Mundelein's Barefoot Bay Family Aquatic Center, sales of one-day passes and season passes are noticeably up for the summer, aquatic supervisor Scott Anthony said. The additional revenue may put the center in the black sooner than usual, he said.
The crowds at Barefoot Bay were about 2 percent larger during the first week of the month this year compared to last year, Anthony said.
Attendance exceeded 1,000 customers each day, Anthony said. It peaked on Independence Day -- when temperatures reached 103 degrees in Mundelein -- with 1,591 customers.
That's up 22 percent from the year before.
"We didn't get a break until the 8th," Anthony said.
Vernon Hills' Family Aquatic Center saw a 2-percent jump in business for the first week of July. Like Mundelein, attendance peaked July 4 with 1,063 customers, aquatic and fitness supervisor Jay Bullman said.
"We have been busy, but I would call it more steady and not super-crazy busy," Bullman said.
Attendance at Libertyville's Adler Pool was up only slightly last week compared to the year before, less than 1 percent. Attendance peaked July 4 with 614 customers, up 7 percent from the same day in 2011.
"We were not overly busy, but we had a solid crowd from open to close," aquatic supervisor Gina Brown said of the week.
Libertyville's much-smaller Riverside Pool had fewer customers than Adler last week, but the increase from July 2011 was relatively greater there.
Brown said 849 people visited Riverside Pool last week, up 28 percent from a year earlier. The busiest day was Friday, with 160 people enjoying the cool water and blazing sun.
Although more people went to swimming pools last week, they may not have been staying for as long as they would on cooler days.
"When it gets really hot, people tend to go where there is air conditioning," Bullman said. "If they come to the pool, they spend shorter periods of time."
With the pools so busy and the sun so hot, safety of the patrons and employees was even more important than usual, the pool supervisors said.
At Barefoot Bay, lifeguards' water bottles were refilled more often than usual and with a mix of water and Gatorade, Anthony said.
In Libertyville, Brown hosed water on the Adler Pool deck to prevent people from burning their feet.
"The concrete was so hot when you stepped on it," she said.
At Gurnee's Hunt Club Park aquatic center, announcements over the loudspeaker reminded people to apply sunscreen and drink water.
"Knock on wood, we had zero heat-related incidents at the pool," Crowe said.