Matthew Kennedy makes time for a burger straight from the grill at the Hammond Hills Swim & Tennis Club pool area in Sandy Springs on May 30.

In Atlanta’s suburbs, the neighborhood pool defines summer. Families spend hours by the water, socializing and escaping the heat. The pool becomes the community gathering place.

“In the summer, that pool is the place where all these children gather and develop friendships. It’s really an amazing thing to watch,” said Renee Arndt, president of the board of the Wynterhall Swim and Tennis Club in Dunwoody. “Though our neighborhoods are not all contiguous, that pool brings us together.”

On May 25, Brookhaven kicked off the swimming season with a swim meet between rival neighborhood teams called the Brittany Barracudas and the Hampton Hall Waves.

Kids in blue tie-dye swimsuits buzzed around the pool. Some wore goggles and swim caps and stood ready to dive into the water, while others were ready to pounce on the pizza and Skittles from the concession stand.

Ian Ballow, 4, takes cooling off into his own hands as he uses a hose for more water enjoyment at the Wynterhall Swim and Tennis Club pool in Dunwoody May 30.

Their arms were covered in notes written in permanent marker to denote which events they were swimming in. Backs often were covered in doodles and silly sayings like “eat my bubbles.”

Brittany Club swim team coordinator Joy Baljet said parents and kids were so excited for the start of the summer swim league.

“It marks the beginning of summer,” Baljet said. “The end of school and beginning of summer, and who doesn’t like to be in the pool?”

Many Atlanta area pools have already geared up for the summer.

A lot of pools take the off season to do repairs and upgrade their facilities. Jim King, chairman of the Chastain Park Athletic Club, said swimmers will notice several new things when they visit the Chastain Park pool this year.

Christin McDougall and her son, Ronan, 2, take in a swim during a family outing at the Garden Hills Pool and Rec Center in Buckhead on May 29.

“We’ve improved our snack shack and refurbished, to a certain extent, our grandstands for watching swim meets and added a quantity of new umbrellas to the pool,” King said. “We just generally improved the overall functionality and appearance of the complex.”

The Chastain pool has been open since May 14. Memberships are available to the public and it is also open on a pay-as-you-go basis.

“We’ve been open for two weekends and this past weekend was as busy as we’ve ever had it early in the season,” King said.

DeKalb County’s pools kicked off the summer season May 28. Al Sheppard, program manager for athletics and aquatics, said the Murphey Candler Pool in north DeKalb is one of the most popular pools in the county and he expects high attendance this summer.

“All the pools are the same, $2 for youth and $3 for adults,” Sheppard said. “We just ask them to come out to enjoy the pools, we’ll be there to receive them.”

Sheppard said the pools host swim teams, swim lessons and private parties.

Aside from public pools, there are some neighborhood pools that also open membership to those outside the neighborhood.

Meira Zibitt, 12, comes up for air during a lengthy swim at the Hammond Hills Swim & Tennis Club pool on May 30. The facility had opened for the season to all members three days earlier, on May 27.

Arndt, president of the board for the Wynterhall Swim and Tennis Club, said almost all of the members of the club are from the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the pool, although it’s not a requirement for membership.

“We have one family that’s outside that area,” Arndt said. “We have a membership of 215 spots and have probably five spots right now and are looking for members.”

The Wynterhall pool opened May 20. Arndt said a lot of work was done during the cold months to spruce up the facilities, including new landscaping and diving boards.

“It’s looking mighty fine over there,” Arndt said. “We want to be a fresh and active and fun place.”