- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 11, 2002

On the count of three, Timyra Rountree, Dijon McKeithan and Jennifer Guy plunged into cool waters hand-in-hand yesterday at the Upshur Swimming Pool in Northwest. The girls giggled the whole time while splashing water onto the deck and jumping up and down in the shallow 5-foot pool that will become a refuge this week as the summerlong heat wave returns to the region.
After a lull of comfortable 80 degree temperatures, it's back to 90-plus-degree days and muggy, humid evenings.
Like so many children from around the District, the three girlfriends decided to chill out in the recently rennovated D.C. Parks and Recreation pool at 14th Street and Arkansas Avenue. The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation operates 33 outdoor pools during the summer Monday through Friday from 1 p.m., until 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sundays from noon until 7 p.m.
"I swim practically every day even when the temperatures are cool," said 11-year-old Timyra, who donned a colorful bathing suit in cobalt blue, yellow and orange.
"When you get into the water, you don't feel the heat and you stay cool," she said before demonstrating a banana split for her friends and onlookers. The sixth-grader who attends Seaton Elementary School in Northwest said she takes a dip in the Upshur Swimming Pool every now and then.
The cool temperatures Timyra talked about are over at least for now the cold front from Canada that gave the region some relief last week has gone away. High pressure just southeast of the Mid-Atlantic states has caused winds to return out of the south and southeast, bringing warmer and more humid air to this region, said National Weather Service meteorologist David Manning. The extended forecasts predicts temperatures in the mid- to high-90s this week.
That suits Dijon, 9, just fine. She's not going to sweat it since the pools are open and the water is refreshing. Dijon, a fourth-grader who attends Clark Elementary School in Northwest, frolicked in the pool yesterday and performed an assortment of flips, cannon balls and bellyflops. When she came up for air, she sighed and talked about the heat wave that seemed to snuff the air itself out of the region most of this summer.
Children may not think much about oppressive temperatures, but Michael Walker does. As chief of aquatics for D.C. Parks and Recreation, he takes 100 degree days and code-red warnings very seriously. Code Red indicates the poorest, most dangerous outdoor conditions.
"Our plan is to extend our operations during the morning and evening hours [during code-red days]. So far, it's gone very well and our attendance has increased dramatically," Mr. Walker, 48, said.
Mr. Walker, a 27 year veteran with the department, has noticed from the time the pools open there have been long lines of people waiting to swim. At some public pools, like Banneker, Francis, and Anacostia, attendance has tripled.
For the time being, Mr. Walker will watch and listen to long-range weather forecasts for staffing purposes. He wants to ensure that the lifeguards who watch over the children and adults stay hydrated, alert and refreshed.
"The pool is a magnet. Whenever you say summertime, the kids are waiting. They love swimming in this city," Mr. Walker said.

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