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Sellwood Pool opens in time for early summer heat

DAVID F. ASHTON - Rebekah Sabzalian is ready to catch her son, Javier, as he takes the plunge into the Sellwood Pool.For many Inner Southeast residents, a favorite way to “chill out” during this, one of hottest summers on record, has been to splash in the Sellwood Pool with hundreds of their neighbors.

“Just after we opened, people wanted to know why we didn’t open for the season before June 15!” said Portland Parks & Recreation Assistant Pool Manager Ian Elliott-Engles.

“The reason is, that many of our employees are students, or they work in schools, so we can’t open until the school year is over,” Elliott-Engles told THE BEE.

A student himself, Elliott-Engles said this was the “perfect job” for him, as during the school year he attends Portland State University as a History major, with plans to become a teacher.

The posted capacity of the pool during an “open swim” is 450 splashers, and during their weekly evening “free swim” early this summer they frequently had capacity crowds in the pool.

“When it’s absolutely packed in the pool, we have as many as ten lifeguards watching it,” Elliott-Engles said.

Now a veteran summertime employee, having started at age 15, Elliott-Engles commented that the best part of the job for him are his co-workers. “Coming here over the past seven years, I really love my staff. They are like a family to me.”

The hardest part of the job, he said, “Is when you're standing out near the pool in 100° heat, and you're watching other people swim and have fun and cool off.”

As Elliott-Engles watched families frolic in the pool, he mused to THE BEE, “I love this job!”

The Portland Parks’ Sellwood Pool is situated at the south end of Sellwood Park, at 7951 S.E. 7th Avenue. For more information, call 503/823-3679.