Aquatic professionals are a bright bunch. We’re natural problem solvers. Every day, new tasks present themselves and we navigate the challenges wisely. Here are some of the tough problems, and creative solutions we’ve been impressed with this year.
The Overwhelmed Hotel Pool
Hotel pools see unique challenges. They can sit empty for days, only to be overwhelmed on a weekend when a youth sports tournament rolls into town. Within minutes a peaceful hotel pool can be quickly overrun by rowdy teens with little/no supervision. Yikes!
In our travels we’ve been impressed by hotel management teams strictly limiting access to their pools. They’ve disabled the key-card entry, and posted signage noting that front desk staff are available to let in swimmers, but only with appropriate supervision. This higher level of access control reduces the risk of unsupervised swimmers and rowdy behavior poolside.
Dirty Patrons, Unused Showers
Most state codes require patrons to shower before entering the pool. Visit any community pool this summer and you’ll see how tough that can be to enforce. This is an expectation that can be tremendously difficult to manage.
Swim schools across the country have found creative and fun ways to encourage showering pre-swim. Shower areas are brightly colored, conveniently opened to parents and stocked with tear-free soaps and shampoos. Many resemble play areas with rainfall shower heads and play-feature-style nozzles. When shower time seems like play time it’s an activity that’s much harder to skip.
Rules can be tough to enforce. Well-trained lifeguard teams know the challenges associated with consistent, fair and firm enforcement.
Smart Aquatic Directors are finding new ways to spread the rules, and when they’re well-known, they’re more likely to be adhered to. This year we’ve seen rules published on social media, posted on hotel room refrigerators at the big indoor waterparks and passed out in sharp pamphlets poolside.
An interesting thing happens when you work hard to spread your rules – your patrons begin to self-enforce. Lap swimmers are quick to remind others of public health rules. Moms remind their husbands not to get to rowdy with their children. Families know in advance not to bring coolers onto the pool deck. These tough situations are avoided by well-informed patrons.
Nothing stops a great day at the pool like a fecal accident. The CDC standard is a minimum 30 minute shut down for formed stool, and almost 13 hours for diarrhea (click here for the full standard). The lasting implications are impactful for you and your patrons alike.
Encouraging great bathroom habits from our younger swimmers can greatly reduce the likelihood of these types of incidents at your facilities. Run mandatory rest-periods at the top of the hour to encourage bathroom breaks. Provide complimentary swim diapers in clean locker rooms to facilitate usage. Install baby changing stations to make swim diaper compliance easier on parents.
Scan industry news and you’ll come across sad stories. Distracted parents miss struggling swimmers, often with heartbreaking results.
We’ve seen great facilities reducing the likelihood of these scenarios with well developed rules and strict enforcement. Make your rules as strict as you want. You’ll avoid unsupervised non-swimmers in dangerous situations. Great facilities task themselves with identifying non-swimmers, and not leaving this designation up to the parents. If a swimmer doesn’t pass your deep end test, or wears any type of floatation device, identify them with a non-swimmer wristband. Now require the parent or guardian to be in the water with them, within arms reach. We’ve seen variations of these rules throughout the country. In each case, strict enforcement of parental supervision reduces lifeguard rescues.