Playing it Cool by the Pool

May 26, 2016

Playing it Cool by the Pool

Five Things You Should Be Aware of when visiting the J’s Aquatics Recreation Park.

It’s almost summer! Time for fun in the sun and a world of outdoor activities including, of course, swimming in the pool!

But… before you begin to dip your toes and dive in, it’s always smart to take a minute to review some basic pool safety measures.

JCC Aquatics Director Bill Kirkner offers these words of wisdom for JCC members and guests when coming to the Shapiro Aquatics Park to ensure a fun and safe experience for all.

1. First, according to Bill, folks should: “Be respectful of the lifeguards. They are here to ensure the safety of everyone in the pool.

Bill explains, “Folks don’t always see what the Lifeguard is seeing. They have a lot of responsibility, and it is difficult to stay vigilant while watching the pool. It’s also sometimes difficult to enforce the rules, especially if it means that a teenage lifeguard has to tell an adult to do something differently.  Guards also usually have to project what they are saying over the noise of the pool, which people may perceive as the guard shouting at them, when they’re really just trying to make sure they’re clearly heard.”

2. Bill also points out that “Water wings, rafts and other inflatables are not permitted in the J’s pools.

He says, “Many people believe that water wings will keep a child safe.”

“The truth is, they’re toys, not lifesaving devices. Anything with air in it that gets hot sitting around on the deck or in the car which is then placed in the water which is colder will deflate and become extra weight holding a child’s arms down. Water wings also give both kids and parents a false sense of security. They’re also not very helpful for children learning to swim, as they keep the arms away from the child’s body, and hold the child vertical instead of horizontal.”

3.The deck must always be kept clear in case of emergencies,” Bill says.

He explains that “There’s actually a Maryland state regulation that requires us to keep a certain amount of ‘clear space’ around the perimeter of the pool, which is why lifeguards will ask you to keep the chairs on the grass and off the concrete deck.  On the Spray Ground, chairs and other items that may have rough edges can damage the rubberized surfaces. 

4. Additionally, “Children under the age of 12 who are visiting the Aquatics Park must be supervised by an adult.  For children under the age of 8, the adult should be within arm’s reach at all times. For all children under the age of 12, the supervising adult must be physically present at the pool where the child is swimming.

“Over the past 10 years that I have been supervising the JCC’s pools,” Bill explains, “the overwhelming number of in-water rescues – I would guess over 90% – have involved children under the age of 12 who were not being supervised by an adult.” 

“Whenever children under 8 are around water, there should be a responsible adult within arm’s reach, and if that adult needs to leave the area, they should make sure that another adult has taken over the responsibility of watching the child in the water.  Even good swimmers and kids who are generally capable in the water can get tired, or chilled or injured, so they still need an adult nearby to provide supervision and assistance if they need help.

5. Bill also reminds swimmers to “Get swim tested before using the pool and swim in the safe swim areas designated for your skill level.

“A recent survey of the American Red Cross found that most people – children and adults – think they can swim, but that about half of these folks aren’t actually able to complete a basic water proficiency test. In other words, a lot of people think they’re more capable around the water than they actually are.”

Bill says, “Swim tests help measure a person’s readiness to either be in deeper water or to handle more challenging aquatic activities. For our camps, we use a swim test that is recommended by the State of Maryland and adopted from the swim test developed by the Boy Scouts of America.

“Beginners (red bands) should stay in water that is no more than chest deep. For children, this will generally mean the shallow portion of the family pool, the baby pools, the splashpad, and the Instructional pool.

“Intermediate swimmers (white bands for members, yellow bands for camp participants) can do a length of the pool on their front and a length of the pool on their back without stopping, plus some treading and floating. The ‘safe swim area’ for these swimmers also includes the 3 – 5 foot section of the Family pool and the lap pool (when being used appropriately.)

“The Swimmer’s test (blue band for members; green bands for camp) is four lengths of the pool, plus treading and floating. Those who pass the swimmer’s test are allowed to use the deep end of the family pool, and to participate in advanced aquatic activities, such as the Swimjitsu obstacle course.”

Summer is practically here, so get ready, get set, for some serious Swimjitsu. Here at the J, we are all very excited for a great summer of fun in the sun and fun in the pools so… grab you suits, grab your towels, and grab your goggles. Have a wonderful, healthy summer, and very importantly, stay safe!

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