Mission Community Pool at 1 Linda Street will close for the winter on Nov. 27. Photo by Anlan Cheney.

An unknown Mission swimmer has a clarion call for others taking a dip at Mission Community Pool at 1 Linda Street: raise your voice, or lose your pool for the winter. 

The outdoor pool normally closes from the end of October through March, although the Department of Recreation and Parks extended the pool’s schedule through Nov. 27 this year. Fliers posted around the neighborhood urge pool patrons to share their views on continuing the season through the winter.

“Maybe we can get them to change their minds,” reads the flier. “There is something different and better about swimming outside. It’s also less ‘COVID-y’ than swimming inside.”

It’s unlikely, however, that the call will be answered. 

“We appreciate everyone’s advocacy to continue swimming at Mission Pool,” said Tamara Barak  Aparton, Department of Recreation and Parks’ deputy director of communications and public affairs. Although the department does not know the exact number of calls it has received to keep the pool open throughout winter, she said staff have indicated it is consistent from year to year.

“A lot of consideration went into this decision,” she said. “We analyzed data from the past three years, and learned there is a significant dip in participation in the winter months.” 

“Additionally, moving our historically seasonal pool to year-round status isn’t sustainable for our department,” Aparton added. Mission Pool is only funded seasonally, she said, and staffing there is sustained by moving employees from other year-round pools. This year’s extension was possible because one of those pool’s renovations lasted longer than anticipated.

Mission Community Pool was built in 1916 and is the only outdoor pool managed by the City through the Department of Recreation and Parks. In addition to swimming lessons, the pool offers regular lap swims, senior swims, water aerobics classes and family swims.

Most of the people present at the nearby Mission playground, sports complex, and businesses said they do not swim at Mission Pool, and they did not know who posted the fliers. 

Parents and child caretakers that we spoke with at the playground tended to agree that the pool’s hours weren’t the best for them — if they could brave the coming cooler temperatures, that is.

“We’d love to swim here, but the family swim hours don’t work for us,” said Mikka Minx, a single mom living downtown with her one-year-old daughter. Minx brings her daughter to Mission Playground for regular playdates, since Minx’s boyfriend lives in the neighborhood, but her daughter takes an afternoon nap during the designated fall hours from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays, and 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Andrew Gallardo was also at the playground with his three- and one-year-old daughters. He said it made sense the outdoor pool would close during the winter months with the temperature dropping. They usually swim at the indoor pool at Garfield Park, he said, but it’s still “frigid” there anyway.

“It’s also just the timing,” he said. “The schedule for this pool is not conducive to when I feel like a lot of kids go down for a nap.”

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"Annie" is originally from Nebraska, where she found her calling to journalism as editor of her high school newsletter. Before returning to the field, she studied peace and political science in the Balkans, taught elementary and middle school, and worked as an epidemiologist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Follow her on Twitter @anlancheney.

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  1. This is not just an issue to a swimming pool closing; it is a political issue as to why the only outdoor pool is closing in a pandemic. There are plenty of indoor pools that could close to keep this one open. Would be cool if you got a statement from the head of Rec / Park and the Mayor’s office.

  2. PLEASE PLEASE keep Mission Pool open all year round.

    I’ve been a regular swimmer here for more than 15 years. And every winter we go through this exercise of winter closure notification, then the swimming community organizes and begs to keep it open, and, most years, Park & Rec has listened to us. And each year the dedicated (and large) group of swimmers at Mission Pool utilizes the pool, rain or shine. We commit to swimming multiple times per week OUTDOORS. Please note the lines of swimmers out front for every lap or senior swim slot.

    Some of the arguments for closure are: this is a seasonal pool, Mission Pool is only funded for 12 months of operation, Mission Pool isn’t staffed for year round use, etc. Any and all of those limitations are completely changeable and determined by us and the city. The swimming community is happy to be flexible. Why can’t Park and Rec flex to the needs of the people it serves?

    I come to the Mission Pool from the outer Outer Sunset expressly because I want to swim outdoors (especially during a pandemic). This pool doesn’t just serve swimmers from the Mission. It serves people from all over the city.

    Please change the status of the pool from seasonal.Rather than being seen as the neglected step child of city pools, it should be treated like the unique gem that it is—the only city pool where you can swim outdoors year round. It’s a special spot and should be maintained and honored.

    And, while we’re taking a look at our pool’s usage, let’s PLEASE reinstate the daily, well-attended after-work swims from 5:30-7:30. We are so fortunate to have a facility like this. Why is it so hard for us to use it?

  3. I’m writing as a huge fan of Mission Pool- I’d love for it to remain open during the winter – I’m in the pool at least 3 times a week. I’m also a subscriber to Mission Local and when I read this article I was disappointed because it didn’t seem that the reporting was very thorough. Asking random folks in the playground didn’t seem to net much information- except about nap time. A lot of the people in the playground are with toddlers and infants- truthfully, there aren’t THAT many childcare workers or new moms who would be taking advantage of an outdoor pool in SF- imagine getting your diaper wearing kids into swimsuits/yourself into a suit and taking advantage of the pool regularly? I’m a mom of twin San Franciscans and jumping in the pool with my kids who were still young enough for nap times wouldn’t have been on my idea of easy fun times in the fog. There’s a lot of logistics in that- especially on a foggy day. Having said that, the pool is really quite warm- even on foggy days. ALSO– The best way to find swimmers is to look a the pool schedule- there is a line in front of the facility for each session. At that time, vaccination checks are made and a count is made since there are only a certain number of swimmers allowed in the pool at the same time. I can testify that the Senior Swim hours- 4x a week are always populated. Mission Pool was the first pool to be opened during the pandemic. The Senior Swim has provided me a wonderful outlet during these pandemic days and has actually created a nice group of regulars. I’ve been swimming regularly there since April 2021. Being outdoors does make it seem “less covidy”. In April- only 4 people were allowed in the pool at a time and dressing and undressing were done on the deck outside. The population and the locker room access expanded as more and more people were vaccinated. The staff has been marvelous- they are in a tight spot and can’t really comment on the hours set up by Parks and Rec. I have only great things to say about my experience these last six months with the Senior Swim at Mission Pool- I’d love it if Mission Local could advocate for us to keep it open. If you would like to contact me about this further- please send me a note.

  4. Here’s what’s worse: all city pools are closed all Sundays. ???
    Also, as folks say, the arbitrary and minimal times for people to use the facilities, especially family swim (often at kids’ nap time) communicates a disregard for the public who the pools are supposed to serve. Imagine if the libraries operated like this.

  5. This! The nap thing! It seems most family swim times available on the weekends, not just at this pool, don’t work for young children who still nap in the afternoon. I’ve been puzzled by this choice by the city.

    1. Hi MM,
      Mission Pool staff said they could not comment and deferred all of our inquiries over the phone and in person to the Dept. of Recreation & Parks. We tried to find swimmers but were unsuccessful.

      1. There’s a line of 10-20 swimmers on average out front waiting to get into every scheduled lap swim. Each and every one of those people in line, I’m sure, would tell you how often they swim and that they want the pool to stay open all year. Easy to find swimmers to comment!