The dog days of summer officially reached Highlands this week as temperatures climbed into the 80s under a hot sun.
Nowhere was the warm weather more apparent than at the Highlands Rec Center swimming pool. Crowds flocked to the cool, clear water of the rec center to beat the heat.
“Since we opened the pool back up at the end of June it’s been pretty busy, but the last few days especially,” Highlands Parks and Recreation Director Lester Norris said. “We are limited to 30 people in the water at any one time due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and for the most part we haven’t had an issue with that number, but during peak times we have had to make some folks wait.”
Norris added that his own family had to wait about 15 minutes to get into the pool recently and that most of the potential swimmers have been very understanding of the restrictions.
“We are following the guidelines and disinfecting everything and cleaning the restrooms and the common areas as often as we are supposed to,” Norris said. “Our staff have done a great job and so far the pool being reopened has gone pretty smoothly.”
The pool being back open to the public means the Highlands Hurricanes swim team has been able to resume practice. While the swimming league season has been cancelled, several of the Hurricanes swimmers have been working hard to get in shape for the annual Junior Olympics swim meet in Florida.
“They are only allowed to have 30 swimmers maximum at practice, but since the league season is called off that hasn’t been an issue,” Norris said. “They have eight or nine that are getting ready for Junior Olympics and then some who are just trying to stay in shape for next season.”
Along with the rec center swimming pool, the recreation department has been able to reopen the newly resurfaced tennis courts and the softball field. The adult softball league got underway on July 6, with game scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays for the next several weeks.
As for the Rec Center itself, including the gymnasium and the fitness center, Norris noted that the building remains closed pending word from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper regarding when the state will move into “phase three” of its reopening plan.
The timing of phase three may have an impact on the fall parks and rec programs.
“Macon County Little League has been given permission to have a fall season, and I think they are taking registrations now,” Norris said. “The soccer board hasn’t been given any kind of permission for fall soccer, so we don’t really know where we stand with that season. As soon as that information becomes available we will let the public know.”