THE BRONX — Bronx residents eager to cool off from steaming temperatures flocked to the borough's public pools on Thursday, when they officially opened for the summer season.
Swimmers were greeted with blues skies and a high of 88 degrees. Pools opened just in time, as a heat wave is expected to hit the city this weekend, with temperatures in the low to mid-90s predicted for Friday and Saturday.
"It's keeping me refreshed," said 20-year-old Alberto Reyes, as he lounged poolside with friends at Mullaly Park Pool, near Yankee Stadium. "Better than being out in the heat."
Bronx student Travis Rackley, 16, was celebrating the end of his school year — the last day for public schools was Wednesday.
"I'm working all summer," said Rackley, who got a job with the Police Athletic League through the city's Summer Youth Employment Program. "I just came here to get a little break."
The Bronx is home to 10 city-run pools, from the Van Cortlandt Park Pool in the borough's northwest corner to the "Floating Pool Lady," a seven-lane pool on a barge that's docked at Barretto Point Park in the South Bronx.
The line of people waiting to get into Claremont Park Pool on Wednesday afternoon snaked around the side of the building. But pool-goers say it's worth the wait, since the pools have no entry free and many offer things like free lunches for kids, swim lessons and other amenities.
"It's not like other pools," said Elijah Caraballo, 12, who was waiting to get into the Claremont pool. "They really care about your safety."
His mother, Amaris Obando, said they'll usually show up an hour and half before the pool opens to get in line.
"I'll bring a book and the kids will play in the park, and when it's time, we'll get refreshed," she said.
"They keep the pool really clean and the people who run the pool are local — you see them every year, they know you and you know them," she said. "We always look forward to it. It's a blessing."