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Where can you swim during a pandemic? Try the river

  • Gracie, a nine-month-old Goldendoodle, leaps through the air while chasing a ball thrown by her owner, Madysen Audet, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. “It’s important to get your dogs out of the house too; they don’t like being cooped up as much as you don’t like being cooped up,” said Audet. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Rilyn West, 5, squirts water on her cousin Matthew DeMeris, 5, as they play in the Merrimack River at the beach area off of Oxbow Pond Road in Canterbury on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Sisters Rilyn (center) and Kinley West spray their cousins as they frolic in the Merrimack River on Wednesday as the tempertures climbed into the 90s.

  • The beachgoers on the Merrimack River off of Oxbow Pond Road in Canterbury practice social distancing as they enjoy the water on Wednesday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • LEFT: Matthew DeMeris, 5, shoots a water cannon at his cousin, Kinley West, as her sister, Rilyn, 5, laughs as the children play in the Merrimack River.

  • racie, a nine-month-old Goldendoodle, gets a spray down by her owner, Madysen Audet, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. “It’s important to get your dogs out of the house too; they don’t like being cooped up as much as you don’t like being cooped up,” said Audet. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 5/27/2020 3:22:03 PM

Wednesday was too hot for Kayleigh West and her daughters to stay indoors.

West has been staying home in Canterbury taking care of her girls, Rilyn and Kinley, and their cousins for weeks now. She heads to town only for essential supplies and groceries, always wearing her mask.

With 90-degree heat bearing down, shedding the mask and heading to the Merrimack River became essential.

“This is actually quite busy for today, but still not a lot of people,” West said around noontime, gesturing to the 12 or so locals swimming in the water or sitting on their beach chairs.

Besides the river, a backyard pool or a tucked-away swimming hole, anyone looking to cool off from the heat had few options.

Ocean beaches along the Seacoast remain closed, and while state parks are open, public beaches on lakes and ponds are not. That may change by early June, when Gov. Sununu is scheduled to release the latest update to the state’s stay-at-home orders.

Madysen Audet brought her 9-month-old goldendoodle, Gracie, down to the river to splash around.

“It’s important to get out even though it’s important to practice social distancing,” Audet said. “It’s definitely important to get your dogs out of the house, too, because they, they don’t like being cooped up as much as you don’t like being cooped up. So I like to get out and get her exercise.”

Even later in the summer, it’s not clear how many options people will have to swim.

The seven swimming pools in Concord city parks traditionally open the second or third week of June, after public schools have closed. The city Parks and Recreation Department says a decision will be made “in June” about whether and when to open the pools, and how to operate them within any social-distancing guidelines.

Back at home Audet has six dogs and puts out three kiddie pools for them to play in. But when it gets really hot, the kiddie pools just don’t do the job, she said.

“You need the cool water,” Audet said. “You need the open deep water because the two-foot kiddie pools are not enough.”




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