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BEHIND THE SCENES / Orange County

Diving into Summer

July 09, 1998

There's something about this time of year that never changes: Kids want to get wet. And taking a dive in a huge municipal pool--and paying only a buck to do it--may be the greatest of summer traditions.

The Depression-era pool at Orange's W.O. Hart Park opened for the season last week, and already waves of families have been splishing and splashing. City aquatics supervisor Dave Ramirez says a couple hundred hit the pool every day. "We offer private and group swim lessons in the mornings, then we rent the pool out to organizations and camps for an hour," Ramirez says.

The real dousing begins in the afternoon. "We clear the pool and we have open swim. Kids have a blast in there. They get an hour and 15 minutes of swimming. That's enough to tire anyone out."

Adults are $1.50; children $1 (50 cents on some Wednesdays). A 20-visit pass sells for $11.50. "We haven't raised the price," Ramirez says. "We don't even recover enough to pay for the four lifeguards on duty.

"And we made an improvement--the pool's heated."

The pool sits in the middle of Hart Park, the city's first park. It was built in 1934 by men from the Works Progress Administration. Most of the old details--rock work and Spanish tiles--evoke a time when pools were actually called "plunges."

Open swim is from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily through Labor Day. W.O. Hart Park is at 701 S. Glassell St., Orange. For more information, call (714) 744-7267.

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