toronto swimming

People are struggling to book slots at outdoor swimming pools in Toronto

Now that Toronto's outdoor swimming pools are finally open for the season, residents have yet another summer activity to enjoy and a way to get some sweet relief from the a heat wave that has taken over the city — that is, if they can manage to nab a coveted time slot to do so.

Like all such City-run activities amid the health crisis, people who've been aching for a leisurely swim and a day at the pool can't just show up and hope it isn't too crowded like in pre-COVID times — instead, they have to book a 45-minute time slot through an online reservation system.

Unfortunately, much like we saw with skating in the winter, it appears that slots on the hottest and most popular days are booking up quickly at the city's 59 outdoor pools, a few of which remain closed, have limited hours or are experiencing water quality issues that lead to cancelled sessions.

Some have taken to social media to complain that all slots at nearby pools get taken very early in the morning on a regular basis, leaving citizens frustrated — especially those with kids — and having to constantly tinker with the system each day looking for an open slot.

While some walk-up slots are available, it seems the demand for those are high and the lines long, leading to some calls for a better way of running things.

At the time of publication early Tuesday afternoon, 13 of the city's outdoor pools listed as open were showing no reservations through to Sunday, while a handful had only a few spots left.

Some pools on the list did have quite open availability as long as swimmers are okay booking a few days in advance, though they were notably locations outside of the downtown core, such as Smythe Park, Lawrence Heights Community Centre, Leaside Outdoor Pool, and Fairbank Memorial Park.

There was still at least one open slot at a couple of popular downtown sites like High Park, Sunnyside Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool and Park Lawn Park as of 12:30 p.m. today.

One thing to be thankful for amid the hunt for a pool session, though,  is that the system for registrations is a much more updated and far easier to navigate one than the '90s-esque efun portal the city usually uses for such activities, making the process at least a tiny bit less enraging.

Also perhaps the fact that thanks to the pandemic, we're used to waiting in lineups for just about everything and getting our game faces on for hectic online queues.

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