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Nome Swimming Pool Reopens After Major Renovations

Lifeguards pose for a photo at the Nome Swimming Pool. Photo courtesy of Melissa Ford.

The Nome Swimming Pool has reopened after extensive renovations to the water system. Originally built through grassroots fundraising efforts in the early 1980s, the pool has served as a gathering place for competitive and recreational swimmers alike.

Melissa Ford serves as the Head Lifeguard of the facility and has worked at the pool since 1997. 

“It’s such a wonderful resource for our community,” Ford noted. “There’s very few communities in Alaska that have a pool, we are so lucky to have this resource.”

The pool switched from a chlorine to saltwater system in 2006 but the original system was not designed to handle the salinated water. Following nearly two decades of dilapidation, The City of Nome opted to switch back to chlorine and install a brand new system. Those efforts began in the summer of 2023. Following a near-year-long process that also included cosmetic repairs, the pool is finally safe for public use. 

“We had been experiencing all kinds of drastic changes with the chemicals, we’d go in one day, and the pH would be off the charts. The next day though, the chlorine would be off the chart,” Ford explained of the old system.

Kept at 84 degrees, the pool provides residents with the opportunity to comfortably swim year-round. A highlight for Ford is the ability for kids to gain a sense of accomplishment and belonging through their experiences at the pool.

“It’s so exciting to watch the confidence they develop from it. It’s a sport that welcomes everybody. Kids who aren’t necessarily going to fit into that mold for the basketball team? They’re going to be just fine in a swimming pool,” Ford said. 

The pool offers hour and a half long sessions on the weekdays and opens up for rentals on the weekend. Daily rates start at $6 for youth and seniors and go up to $20 for a family pass. 15 and 30 punch passes are also available to save money for regular visitors. Up to date schedules are posted on the City of Nome’s website

The pool plans on expanding offerings to include swim lessons and water aerobics once current guards earn their certifications. The pool could add more hours to the schedule but only with the help of additional lifeguards. According to Ford, even two hours a week can make a big difference. 

“That’s huge and creates an opportunity for kids and families to have a chance to be at the pool,” Ford said. 

Those interested in working as lifeguards or swim coaches are encouraged to contact Melissa Ford directly on Facebook. 

“It’s just a great way to give back to our community and to be a part of the good of Nome,” Ford added.

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We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.