Summer is officially here, and if you have outdoor pools, they are probably getting full with Group X programming, recreational swimmers and families. With a lot of traffic occurring at your pools, we know that it can be difficult to monitor, or realize, all the issues that can come with high-volume traffic. We were lucky to get some time with Seth Hazen, the regional aquatics director for Club One in San Francisco, to ask him about pool safety and how you can minimize risk around your aquatics center.
CS: How do clubs teach members about pool safety?
SH: One of the best ways we’ve found to teach members about pool safety (and to introduce members to our policies in general) is to hold new member orientations. These orientations give you the opportunity to highlight guidelines that your members may not otherwise be aware of. It is also a great forum for your members to ask questions, before they use your pools.
Outside of the orientations, it is important members get a copy of the pool rules in their new-member packets, with reps giving a brief recap at signup, and that your pool rules are posted in visible locations. I recommend having new members sign a copy of your pool rules that is kept with their paperwork so you know they’ve received them.
CS: What should managers be aware of to ensure members are safe around pools?
SH: It’s extremely important, especially if you do not have lifeguard staff on duty, that other team members are scheduled to have regular walkthroughs of your pool area to help avoid situations before they arise. These walkthroughs give your team a chance to remind members of policies and give you another outlet to help teach new members proper procedures like lane entries, circle swimming and proper use of aquatic equipment. By also establishing a regular staff presence, it lets your members know that someone is checking on them, which will help ward off unsafe practices.
CS: What are some common overlooked issues in terms of member safety?
SH: One of the most common overlooked issues I’ve found really starts with introducing new members to your facility. While they may have done a walkthrough on their tour, if they haven’t been through an orientation, they really aren’t familiar with your pools. It’s important to really walk them through your pool area. Where does your pool get deep? Are there underwater stairs to be aware of? What is the procedure for getting in a lane with another swimmer? Is diving allowed?
Most often members are using the pool for the first time a little blindly, and this is where the highest risk lays. The extra time spent to give them a thorough orientation of your pool will pay huge dividends in minimizing risk.
CS: How can clubs best utilize lifeguards to help minimize risk?
SH: The safest way to minimize risk at any club is to have certified lifeguards on duty all hours your club is open, so that you always have someone watching your swimmers. If this isn’t feasible at your club the next best thing is to bring in lifeguards during your busiest times of the day, and/or any time you have scheduled family times. These are some of the highest risk usage times and having a lifeguard presence on deck at that time will go a long way towards ensuring everyone is safe.
By Tyler Montgomery