For many area families, summer doesn’t really begin until Omaha’s 15 outdoor public pools open for the season, and the closing date is a sad reminder that swimming has ended for another year. But even on the coldest of winter days, families can still satisfy their longing to get in the water by visiting any of the city’s indoor pool facilities.
“They are open, public facilities so anyone who pays the admittance fee and follows the rules is allowed to use them,” says Tracy Stratman, recreation manager for the City of Omaha Parks, Recreation and Public Property department. “Those indoor pools are so valuable because our summers are so short. I think they’re like hidden gems in the city.”
Full-size, 25-meter indoor pools are housed at Mockingbird Hills Community Center at 10242 Mockingbird Drive and Montclair Community Center at 2304 S. 135th Avenue. Common Ground at 1701 Veterans Dr. in Elkhorn became part of the Omaha indoor pool facility group several years ago after Elkhorn was annexed, but it is a membership-based facility.
“Montclair and Mockingbird are not membership-based like Common Ground, so you do not have to be a member, it’s a pay-as-you go. We do have punch cards and seasonal passes, which obviously drop the (per visit) cost,” Stratman explains.
“Swimming really is a life skill,” Stratman says. “Swimming is one of those sports or activities that really hits all ages and all abilities. Even if you’re recovering from an injury or are an older adult, there’s always something you can do in the pool. But there’s also a level of competition if you’re a seasoned lap swimmer or even a competitive swimmer.”
Krista Andress, an Omaha mom with sons ages 13 and 11, says her family has enjoyed swimming at both the Mockingbird and Montclair facilities and that she researched Omaha’s recreational centers online before moving here from Colorado a few years ago.
“We’re a recreational family. We like to take advantage of community rec centers,” she says, adding that she and her husband actually met while working at such a facility in another community. “Swimming is great exercise and swimming at a community center pool is really a great family activity.”
The former lifeguard adds, “I’m a big advocate that everyone should learn how to swim.”
Swimming lessons are available through the City of Omaha for all ages, starting with Float for Life at nine months through group lessons for children and older youth, Stratman says. Adults or children can also sign up for private instruction.
“As a parent, I think this is the perfect time for swim lessons because there’s not that rush to get them comfortable in the water before the season starts,” Stratman says.
Drop-in admission fees for Montclair are only $4 for adults and $3 for youth and seniors, and kids under age 2 are admitted free. Special reduced admission periods and designated open recreational swimming hours—as well as lap swimming hours, exercise classes and lessons—are posted on the City of Omaha website at www.cityofomaha.org/parks.