Zack Tolbert, UA assistant director of aquatics, said opening week at the pool last year brought more cold, more rain and more wind than it did this year. He said the better weather has increased attendance exponentially.
“After our first week, we had nearly 1,500 for the week,” Tolbert said. “Business is really big right now. Last year’s first week was a blip on the radar comparatively. We may have had 100 people.”
The blue skies and warm sunlight have brought students across campus to the poolside to work on their tans and relax in and by the pool.
In contrast with Tolbert, Mallory Lee, a senior majoring in exercise science, said this April hasn’t been that different from past years to her perception. However, she said she did not have as many opportunities to lay out in semesters past.
“I just planned it well enough so that my senior year, I’ve already had all my hardest classes,” Lee said. “I work in the mornings and have the afternoon off. All my tests were earlier in the week.”
Not every student laying out is so fortunate in their studies. Mary Sparrow, a freshman majoring in business, said she brought her notes with her to study for a final when she went to the Riverside community’s pool to tan, but it didn’t work out well.
“It’s too sunny to read, I feel like sometimes,” Sparrow said, “but I try.”
Lissa Handley Tyson, a freshman majoring in math and accounting, said she and her friend Sparrow enjoy bonding by the Riverside pool. She said she tried to study poolside to no avail, but she prefers trying to study at Riverside’s pool to trying to study amid the crowds at the Rec Center.
“We like this pool better because it’s quieter,” Tyson said. “The Rec pool, there’s no hope for studying.”
Matt Smith, a sophomore majoring in pre-pharmacy who works at the Recreation Center’s outdoor pool, said the pool is the least crowded in the early hours. The outdoor pool is open from noon to 7 p.m.
“It’s most crowded, probably, about one to four in the afternoons on a good day,” Smith said.
Tyson said she had seen people use the Quad for tanning, but she personally wouldn’t do it.
“I’d definitely sit out on the Quad, but I wouldn’t lay out there in my bathing suit,” Tyson said. “I like to go where it’s just me. I don’t like to go out in the middle of everyone.”
Tolbert said people usually prefer to sun themselves by a pool because if they get too hot in the sun, they have a pool to cool off in. He said he wasn’t concerned about competition from pools at Riverside or at apartment complexes near campus.
“We’re probably one of very few pools that is open this time of year,” Tolbert said.
Katie Mann, a freshman majoring in nursing, said tanning by the pool was a good way to relieve stress after classes, and she liked some of the amenities the Rec Center offers over other pools.
“I really like the fact that they have Icees,” Mann said. “They’re really refreshing when you’re getting hot.”
As for sunburn, Mann said it usually isn’t a problem for her.
“I don’t really wear a lot of sunscreen because I don’t really burn easily,” Mann said.
Mann’s friend Nicole Powell, a freshman majoring in early childhood development, said she did use sunscreen, but only sparingly.
“I put on sunscreen on the places on my body that I know will get burned: my face and my shoulders,” Powell said.
However, according to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, ultraviolet rays can raise skin cancer risk whether sunburn results or not. Tolbert said it was important for students to follow the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for safety in the sun.
“Issues with our skin don’t start when you’re an adult,” Tolbert said. “They start when you’re young and outdoors. And it’s not just your skin. Use good sunglasses.”
Anne Elizabeth Davis, a senior majoring in public relations who went to the outdoor pool with fellow senior Lee, said they both try to be careful with UV exposure.
“We try to put sunscreen on every hour and a half to keep from getting burned,” Davis said. “The best advice would be to put on sunscreen before you come.”
Andrew Johnson, a junior majoring in chemistry, said he rarely uses sunscreen, but that doesn’t come without a price.
“I usually burn once on spring break, and then I’m good to go,” Johnson said.