It’s the first day of summer, and hundreds of Columbus kids are a little wet behind the ears.

They’re also wet behind the toes, knees and other body parts that are exposed to water when youngsters enthusiastically leap into a refreshing outdoor pool.

Donner Aquatic Center, one of the city’s most popular summer attractions, welcomes thousands of eager visitors each season.

Swimmers got a head start on summer Tuesday as they lined the 20-foot-high staircase to the top of the 160-foot-long water slide, waiting for their turn to cruise down the orange slide into the clear blue water.

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And while young children nervously danced around in the leisure pool waiting for the water to splash on their heads from the play structure, one teen completed a perfect cannonball into the nearby 11-foot diving well.

With water temperatures that are 80 degrees every day, and Tuesday’s air temperature that rose into the mid-80s, that combination made being in the water — or being splashed by the water — hard to resist.

“Unless it rains, we’re going to see 500 to 600 people a day,” said Jim Lemke, aquatics director at the Donner pool, where in-water capacity is 500 swimmers.

For many families, spending an afternoon at the pool is a summer tradition.

“Every day, we have the same people, Lemke said. “You can look around and know that family is going to sit there. That family is going to sit there.”

Kara Major of Columbus brings her children to the park at least four days a week throughout the summer.

“This is our eighth summer coming here,” Major said. “(My daughter) is a fish. She loves the water and we love being out in the sun. It’s just a nice place to come with the kids.”

Anytime their friends are there, 12-year-old Katie Alamo and 13-year-old Erin Rawlins can be found poolside. The two girls ride their bikes to the pool several times a week.

“You get to see all your friends that you haven’t seen in school,” Alamo said. “It’s a great way to get back together and it’s fun to go out in the pool.”

With a holiday approaching in the next two weeks, the regular crowd typically takes a break from Donner and out-of-towners take their place, Lemke said.

Donner Aquatic Center

Location: 739 22nd St., Columbus

Hours: 

  • 1 to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday
  • Noon to 6 p.m. Saturday – Sunday

Prices

  • Adults: $4 a day
  • Ages 6-17: $3.50 a day
  • Ages 3-5: $2 a day
  • Ages 2 and under: Free
  • Season pass: $40 per person

Season: Daily through Aug. 13.

Lessons: Three two-week sessions over the course of the summer with two morning sessions and two afternoon sessions.

Information: Visit facebook.com/donnerpool.

Donner by the numbers

70: Age of Donner Aquatic Center as of this year

500: Pool capacity

7: Days of the week the pool is open

40: Lifeguards employed at the center

465,000: Gallons of water in pool

80: Average water temperature in degrees