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Donner pool ends season with canine swim

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Pooches will rule the pool when Donner Aquatic Center ends its season this weekend.

The pool officially closes at 6 p.m. Sunday but will remain open to canines and their human companions until 8 p.m. for the End of Summer Doggie Swim and Bark in the Park.

As of Thursday afternoon, attendance at public sessions for the summer had reached 27,984 since opening day May 24, said Jim Lemke, aquatics manager for the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department. That figure was 1,200 shy of last year’s attendance with four days remaining in the season, he added.

This year’s pool operations went swimmingly, Lemke said. August was chillier than normal, he said, but attendance was up in June and July. Although the pool had to close early six days due to weather or low attendance, it opened every morning as planned, he said.

Usually, attendance doesn’t vary much from year to year, Lemke said.

“You have a bad day here or there, but you make it up as you go,” he said.

And the Doggie Swim and Bark in the Park are great events to end the summer, he said. The events are being conducted in conjunction for the third year, Lemke said, but both have had successful runs on their own.

The Doggie Swim, conducted in cooperation with Columbus Animal Control and Columbus Animal Rescue Effort, has ended the summer season for the last 10 years. In that time, the event’s attendance has more than doubled, increasing from around 70 dogs the first year to about 150 in recent years, Lemke said. Attendance trends have increased similarly for Bark in the Park, which features vendors and two shows from the Indy Dog and Disc Club, he added.

If the forecast is showing bad weather at 1 p.m. Sunday, the parks department will cancel Bark in the Park and notify vendors and Indy Dog and Disc Club, Lemke said.

But as long as lightning doesn’t occur, the doggie swim likely will still happen, he said.

After Sunday, shutting down the pool will take about a month, including time to winterize drains and clean. No extra work is planned for the pool before staff starts the process to re-open the aquatic center next year, Lemke said.

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