2205 Sangamon Drive
By Emily Harrington
Now more than a decade later, the relocated snack bar sells actual food, and the water slide that provided late-night entertainment has morphed into bright tubes that look like they are out of a Disney water park. The lifeguards are no longer my friends who are too busy checking out the opposite sex to pay attention. They are attentive and on top of their safety game!
It’s a different Sholem — better. The Sholem Aquatic Center was overhauled in 2006. What resulted is a summer oasis catering to every member of the family. Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can find this public pool at 2205 Sangamon Dr. in Champaign.
The center is divided into different areas. “The Beach” is 8,000 square feet of water with a zero-depth entry leading to “The Vortex” (a super fun looking contraption of sprays and slides). “The Beach” contains eight 25-yard lap lanes that make up “The Sea.” Feeling adventurous? Try one of the water slides that lead into either “The Rapids” (a 660-foot lazy river) or the splash pool.
“The Puddle” is the “baby” pool. This pool is also zero entry with multiple ground sprays and a little water slide. It’s half shaded and deepest at 30 inches. We went to Tiny Tots Splash Time which is truly a Best Kept Secret. Monday through Sunday until Aug. 1, you and your little one can go to “The Puddle” to splash and socialize. On the weekdays, you can get there as early at 7:30 a.m. and stay until 11:45 a.m. On the weekends, you can get there at 9:30 a.m. and stay until 10:45 a.m. This way you can avoid the crowds of public swim, and get home a tired tot before naptime. You can bring your children outside of the 0-5 age range, but the only pool they can play in is “The Puddle.” Don’t underestimate this pool, though. It is spacious for a “baby” pool. There were a lot of tots there, and I never felt overcrowded. I had to pay $3, but my son was free since he was younger than 3! If you are a season pass holder this amenity is included.
Season passes range in cost depending on the number of family members and residency, but they are around $100 per person. Individual passes can be purchased anywhere from $4 to $9 depending on residency and time of day. Frequent swimmer cards are also available for multiple uses.
“The Oasis” is the snack bar with food like hot dogs, pulled beef sandwiches, nachos and cold treats. Yummmmy! You can pack lunches, too. Little handheld coolers are welcome, but don’t go wheeling in a tailgate-size Igloo. That’s frowned upon. Grassy areas called “The Meadow” and “The Field” are available to eat your goodies at, or shaded benches are at “The Oasis.” The Centennial Park playground is directly across the street, too.
Around noon the pool opens for public swim. Public swim is weekdays from 12:30 (noon for season pass holders) to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in July). On weekends and holidays the pool opens at 11 a.m. and also closes at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. in July). Hours are reduced when school is in session.
There are many programs and amenities available at the center. You can swim laps outside of public hours, participate in water aerobics, cheer on your kids at swim team or sign up for private or group swim lessons.
In closing, don’t forget swim diapers, regular diapers, dry clothes, towels and sunblock. Leave all flotation devices at home—they are not allowed! Lastly, it would be so unfortunate to pack all the swim accoutrement and hype the little ones only to arrive and the place be CLOSED. Check the Champaign Park District website for any closures or cancellations before you head out!
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie that left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job to be a 24/7 mom to a dreamy son. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Oh, and let’s not forget her other son, a degenerate canine named Heppenheimer.