Lawrence outdoor pool to hold annual Pooch Plunge; pool will again close earlier than past years

photo by: Mike Yoder

Two dogs attempt to get out of the pool at the annual Pooch Plunge at the Lawrence Outdoor Aquatic Center Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.

Dogs will soon get their day at the public pool.

The annual Pooch Plunge is scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15 at the Outdoor Aquatic Center, 727 Kentucky St., according to a city news release. The event allows dogs to play in the pool before it is drained for the season.

To participate, dogs must have proof of current vaccinations the day of the event and must remain under their owners’ control at all times. This event is for dogs only, and people are not allowed to swim. The fee for the event is $5 per dog, with no fee for spectators.

Registration will be available at the door, but owners may also preregister on the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department’s website,, or at any Parks and Rec building, including the city’s four recreation centers, the indoor and outdoor aquatic centers and the Prairie Park Nature Center.

The last day of normal operations for the Outdoor Aquatic Center will be Sunday, Aug. 14. As the Journal-World has reported, the city has struggled to find enough lifeguards to fully operate the city pools, and in recent years the outdoor pool has been opening later in the season, operating with more limited hours and closing earlier. Since 2019, the outdoor pool has been closing a few weeks earlier than the traditional Labor Day closure due to staffing shortages and other factors.

Recreation Operations Manager Kent Rettig said there are several factors involved with the timing of the closure. He said that includes the start of the school year and related extracurricular activities, which reduces attendance at the outdoor pool. He said the later closure date also allows the city to use remaining available staff to operate the Indoor Aquatic Center, 4706 Overland Drive. The indoor pool reopens Aug. 15, with swimming lessons scheduled to start after Labor Day.


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