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These Skaters Are Willing To Clean Your Pool For Free

In the sprawling landscapes of Southern California, where residential pools dot the suburban neighborhoods, a unique subculture thrives. Led by Steve Alba, revered as the godfather of pool skating, a group of enthusiasts has found a novel way to merge their love for skateboarding with the practical task of pool maintenance.

The Allure of Skating Pools

With over 10 million residential pools in the United States, the allure of an empty swimming pool in Southern California is irresistible to skateboarders. It’s a blank canvas for daring maneuvers and gravity-defying tricks. But before the thrills begin, there’s the less glamorous work of cleaning the pool. Despite his age of 61, Alba still rolls up his sleeves and offers his services for free, provided homeowners allow him and his friends to skate in the emptied pool afterward.

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A post shared by Steve Alba Skateboarder (@salba69)

Alba’s van is a mobile workshop, equipped with all the tools needed for pool maintenance alongside a crucial addition: a skateboard. For decades, Alba has been at the forefront of pool skating culture, embodying the spirit of exploration and ingenuity that defines the sport. “The ultimate goal is to skate the pool,” Alba explained to the Wall Street Journal, reflecting on his lifelong passion for finding and riding the perfect transition.

Skating Pools Goes Way Back

The concept of skating empty pools harks back to the 1970s, an era when skateboarders repurposed backyard pools and urban terrain to emulate the sensation of surfing. Today, with skateparks aplenty, some skaters still crave the raw, organic experience of navigating the curves and transitions of a pool’s concrete shell.

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A post shared by Steve Alba Skateboarder (@salba69)

The allure of backyard pools is deeply primal for skateboarders. While city-sanctioned skate parks abound—with the Skatepark Project, a California-based nonprofit, estimating around 3,500 in the U.S. in 2019—to dedicated pool skaters, purpose-made bowls and ramps can feel repetitive and almost too simplistic, particularly when they’re inundated by scooter-pushing tweens.

Skaters Willing To Clean Pools For Pool Time

Pitching their services to homeowners requires finesse and persuasion. Ozzie Ausband, another enthusiast of pool skating, utilizes satellite imagery and a personal charm to win over potential clients. His pitch includes promises of regular maintenance, respectful usage, and a demonstration of his skating skills to reassure homeowners of his credibility.

For homeowners, the allure lies not just in the novelty of having skateboarders in their backyard but also in the practical benefits. Salba Pool Cleaning doesn’t just drain and skate; they also undertake yard maintenance tasks and repairs as needed. Ausband, explained that the homeowner is essentially getting a free service, so long as the crew at Salba Pool Cleaning can bring their boards and skate the pool when the job is done.

Getting a ‘Permission Pool’

Initially met with skepticism, their unconventional proposition has evolved into a successful endeavor over the decades. Their pitch now includes the signing of liability waivers to address homeowners’ concerns.

For many homeowners burdened with neglected pools, the proposition is a blessing. What was once an eyesore transforms into a hub of excitement. Alba and his crew recognize the untapped potential hidden beneath neglect. To them, the ideal pool isn’t just defined by its shape but also by the quality of its surface, particularly favoring pools constructed between 1950 and 1977.

However, the service isn’t without its challenges. Skating can leave its mark on pools, requiring repairs and repainting. Participating in a skate session at a “permission pool” often involves contributing to chores. Lance Mountain, a seasoned pro and a Nike skateboarding team member, endured hay fever while assisting with yard work to earn pool time. On one occasion, Mountain found himself pouring and shaping concrete with his fellow skaters to resurface a pool bottom. They labored until late into the night, illuminated solely by iPhone flashlights.

Worth The Price of Admission

Yet, for many homeowners like Daniel Lizarde, the agreement was well worth it. After Salba Pool Cleaning finished their work, Lizarde’s pool was restored from a duck pond to its former glory. The homeowner was pleased he could see the bottom of his pool for the first time in ages.

Overall, the give-and-take nature of the arrangement between pool owners and Salba Pool Cleaning is a symbiotic relationship of sorts where both parties benefit. Pool owners receive much-needed maintenance services and a revitalized pool space, while Alba and his crew gain access to unique skating opportunities and foster meaningful connections within their community.

Featured Photo Credit: Steve Alba @salba69

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