Pool Offering Free Weekend Swimming

With little relief expected from the triple-digit heat and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky sponsoring three days of free admission, the Labor Day weekend promises to be the busiest of the summer at El Cariso pool in Sylmar.

“We figure all three days will be packed, but especially Sunday and Monday,” said pool manager Mike Baham, who scheduled an extra, eighth lifeguard to patrol crowds in the 50-meter by 22-yard wide pool. “But we’re prepared, we’re ready. It’s going to be fun.”

For the second year, Yaroslavsky has said he will pay for the pool’s operation during the three-day weekend out of his discretionary funds, allowing adults and children alike to swim for free.

“We’re hoping to make free Labor Day a continuing tradition,” Yaroslavsky said.


The National Weather Service is forecasting continued hot, dry weather for the San Fernando Valley through the weekend, with temperatures reaching 105 degrees on Saturday. A low-pressure system in the Pacific Northwest will bring some relief on Sunday and Monday when highs are expected to dip into the upper 90s.

On Friday, Sonia Salvada of Arleta, who was enjoying the cool blue water with her two daughters and a niece, said she thought it was a good idea to make the pool free for the weekend, if not always.

“I remember when we used to pay 25 cents to swim and now it’s $1 for kids and $2 for adults,” said Salvada. “If you have a big family but you don’t have a lot of money, it can be expensive. Kids should be able to come here all the time.”

Despite the fee, some kids do come all the time. Mario Burton, 11, of Van Nuys, who was at the pool with his cousin Ramon Clark practicing flips off the 3-meter diving board, said he would be back Saturday.


‘We come every week,” said Mario. “You get to do fun stuff like swim across the pool fast or jump off the diving board.”

Another regular, 16-year-old Daniel Bair of Sylmar, who swims on the El Cariso team during the summer, said he was looking forward to the crowds. “I know a lot of people who are going to be here. It makes it more exciting when a lot of people show up,” Daniel said.

For Baham and the other lifeguards, Labor Day weekend will be a grand finale. Monday is the last day the pool will be open this summer.

“We’re actually going to start draining it on Monday when everybody leaves,” Baham said.


El Cariso Regional Park is at 13100 Hubbard St., Sylmar. The pool will be open from 12:30 to 5 p.m. today through Monday.