Warner Park, the Tennessee River draws swimmers to them

Warner Park, the Tennessee River draws swimmers to them

May 27th, 2012 by Steve Hardy in News

Deuntae Watson makes his way across the new Wibit inflatable obstacle course at the Warner Park pool in Chattanooga on Saturday. Memorial Day weekend marked the opening of the city's swimming pools.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

WEEKEND WEATHER

Chattanooga's Saturday high: 93 degrees

Record high for May 26: 94 degrees, set in 1953 and 1962

Today: High in the lower to mid 90s

Record high for May 27: 95 degrees, set in 1911

Tomorrow: High in the upper 80s, 20 percent chance of rain, possible afternoon thunderstorms

Source: Sam Roberts, National Weather Service -- Morristown office

Kids raced around the new aquatic obstacle course at Warner Park while a fleet of boats sailed the Tennessee River in the Saturday heat as locals celebrated Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer.

By 2 p.m., Warner Park's pool had already hit its 300-swimmer capacity for the debut of the Wibit, a $10,000 inflatable floating obstacle course that features hurdles, balance beams, slides and more.

"You know [the TV show] "Wipeout"? It reminds me of that," said 17-year-old Demitrius Long. "It's a great addition to the pool."

Long said the Wibit is especially fun for older kids, many of whom raced side by side, splashing and flailing to the finish slide.

Peggy Grall, city parks and recreation aquatic coordinator, said it's also a great way to motivate younger kids to learn how to swim, noting that 16 signed up for swimming lessons on Saturday.

"I think it's amazing," said 10 year-old Diashia Shropshire, who took the swimming test specifically to play on the Wibit.

Across town, more swimmers crowded the Chickamauga Marina area, along with boaters, fishermen and folks just looking to soak up some sun.

"There's been a boat about every 20 seconds," said fisherman David Goines, who showed off the 15 or so bass and bream he had caught near the boat launch.

Boater Jonathan Mason said the waterways were crowded around Steve's Landing in Soddy-Daisy where his friends ate lunch, but everyone had a good time under the watchful eyes of state officials.

"The [Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency] were out a lot, just making their presence known," he said.

Other boaters didn't go nearly as far, opting to drop anchor right in Chickamauga Lake. They could swim and sunbathe near the crowded beach where kids swam out to buoys and couples floated on rafts hand in hand.

In the 93-degree heat, though, the beach was fairly calm.

"There's been a lot of people out here," said Jesse Ashworth. "Everybody's really friendly."

"Everybody's just chilling," added Misael Calderon.