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Reservations required for a dip in Barton Springs Pool

Monday, May 10, 2021 by Sangita Menon, KUT

Folks looking to cool off with a dip in Barton Springs Pool will need a reservation starting May 21. The change is meant to limit the number of people for safety reasons because there are fewer lifeguards.

The reservation system, which opens Monday, will allow people to book a two-hour window between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Reservation dates will be opened in blocks, eventually opening an entire month at a time.

The cost depends on age and residency, but varies from $2-$9 and must be paid when registering.

Season pass holders, those 80 and older, children younger than one year, veterans, and retired or active-duty military service members do not need a reservation, though other people in their party will need one. Those who opt to swim at their own risk from 5 -8 a.m., when no lifeguards are on duty, will not need a reservation.

A spokesperson for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department said the city is requiring reservations to limit capacity because it doesn’t have enough lifeguards. Hiring would typically have begun in November, but didn’t start until March when public health authorities lowered the Covid-19 risk-based guidelines to stage 3.

There are currently 600 lifeguard positions posted. A PARD spokesperson said with smaller class sizes for trainings, it will take a while to fill them. Additionally, lifeguards have to be distributed equitably throughout the city. As more lifeguard positions are filled, the number of reservations at the pool may increase.

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