Waaaaay back in late October of 2016, Balboa Pool (situated in San Francisco’s Balboa Park) closed for renovations. Some of the items on the to-do list: renovations to the pool and its surrounding building, the addition of a multi-purpose room and ADA accessibility upgrades throughout.
The project was initially expected to take just one year, but it’s been a journey, as they say. Two years and four-ish months later, the renovations are complete; the pool reopens with fanfare, free swimming and “aquatic giveaways” this Saturday, Feb. 23.
What makes this moment even more exciting, and worthy of inclusion on KQED Arts (and not KQED Swimming, which doesn’t exist but maybe should, whaddya say?) is the presence of a brand new and enormous mural, courtesy of the city’s two-percent-for-art funding, on one of the pool building’s interior walls.
Measuring 13-by-37 feet, San Francisco-based artist Jason Jägel’s mural, titled All My Friends At Once, shows a variety of human and animals friends diving into and swimming about the pool, with the names of the neighborhoods surrounding Balboa Park floating around them. Four synchronized swimmers, who represent the San Francisco Merionettes, an award-winning synchronized swimming club formed in 1956 (predating even the 1959 opening of Balboa Pool), bend their bodies and point their toes in the graceful, severe gestures that define the sport.
Now, we can’t all be Merionettes, but with Balboa Pool at long last reopening, we can at least work on that underwater handstand. In your excitement to jump in the deep end, just remember, NO RUNNING.