I have read all of the thread and I must say for a first time pool closer it is a little scary as the information seems to vary. So I will try and sway this toward my specific pool:
I live in Northeast Ohio where the winters can be brutal. I have a 30,000 gallon SWG pool new this year. I am pretty confident about the water chemistry (get the Fc to shock level and add some polyquat 60). I am will use empty gallon containers in the skimmer holes and PLUG the bottom of each skimmer with the hayward o-ring 1-1/2 plugs.
The issue: in this thread you drain below the return and then use antifreeze and plug from both ends. However, my skimmer lower level is 10 inches down from the bullnose. My returns are 20 inches down from the bullnose and my light tops are 26 inches down from the same bullnose. If I drain to below the return to get the water out, then I am really close to the lights! I am not sure of how much ice will form, but I have to assume it will be enough to get the lights! To compound matters, the GLI solid cover clearly states that the pool should NOT be drained more than 18 inches from the cover...UGH!
So you see I am stuck: if I only drain to 15 inches then I can't get the returns cleared of water. If I drain to 24 inches, I am within 2 inches of the lights and also violate the cover recommend.
At this point I am considering a drain to below the returns...plug them solid after clearing and adding antifreeze then filling the pool back up to below the skimmers...seems like a lot of work to plug the returns.
Second thought: use the skimmer plugs that want the water at mid level and leave the returns open as they are 10 inches below the top of the water.
All return and skimmer lines are run 42 inches below ground.