It’s clear that 2020 will be the summer of social distancing.
But some might find it hard to do that as crowds try to enjoy recreational activities again like public pools and parks.
That’s where a growing concept across North Texas and the country comes into play, called “contactless recreation.”
Since the pandemic, there’s been a growing number of homes in the DFW area offering up their own backyard pools as a safer option for families.
Jan Lohmann of Plano is one of those homes, allowing families to social distance from public areas by using her 40-foot pool in her backyard. She uses a site called Swimply to connect with people.
“I’ve been pretty busy, there’s a steady stream of people out there, most of them high school swimmers,” she said. “Since I do have a longer pool than most, they’re able to really get in a good work out there able to dive.”
She’s one of the dozens of DFW area hosts on the Swimply site, which is similar to Airbnb but for pools. People can rent someone’s backyard pool by the hour. The site also operates as a smartphone app.
Lately, hosts have seen an uptick in people trying to find safer ways to enjoy the warmer weather.
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“I have a high privacy fence and it’s easy to keep track of your children here,” she said. “They don’t have to worry about who they’re around because they’re not around anybody except the people they brought with them.“
Lohmann said she’s also hosting many families who live in apartments who don’t want to risk public pools or lakes, despite the reopenings.
“I think to myself that it isn’t the pool because the pool is chlorinated, it’s the people who are in and around the pool,” she said. “You simply don’t know what you might run into.”
Swimply founder Bunim Laskin started the site last June.
“I’m surprised to see how critical it became,” he told NBC 5.
Since the pandemic, they’ve lowered prices so people can more easily rent some local pools for $15 or even $30 an hour.
“Especially right now with the current climate, our pool owners probably can use the money more than ever so it’s a great way to also support the community locally," said Laskin.
Hosts have been retrained on new safety protocols and they’re required to sanitize the pool before and after each reservation. There is a five-person max at every host pool and hosts often do not have contact with the guests.
“Only 20% of our pool owners report to have ever met a guest and it is a very self-serve process and that’s even before the current climate taking play,” Laskin said. “It’s always been a contact for the experience which is why it’s been able to be such a facilitator during this time."
In the next few weeks, Laskin is expanding into more contactless recreation through another platform called Joyspace, where people can rent backyard basketball hoops, tennis courts or anything else people have to help families avoid crowded parks and other spaces.