Modern Manners: Swimming In Pools And Waterfronts — Are Rules Made To Be Broken?

Aug 11, 2017 Hayleigh Gowans Eagle Bulletin, Point of View


Modern Manners: Swimming in pools and waterfronts — Are rules made to be broken?

By Hayleigh Gowans

Staff Writer

This topic is another summer themed one — swimming in public pools and waterfronts.

I’ve grown up around pools my whole life — I started swimming lessons at an early age, swam and coached for my community swim team, have taught swim lessons to children and adults and have held management lifeguard positions at both my local and college pool. I think my mindset to always follow rules probably stems from my days as a kid being loudly reminded by lifeguards to “WALK” at the public pool.

Most public swimming facilities have rules in place for the safety and enjoyment of all people, and you should follow all rules no matter how frivolous they may seem. In my experience as a lifeguard, you get a lot of people who think they are above the rules and go about breaking them no matter how many times you remind them. This is frustrating for the lifeguards and distracts them from doing their job of keeping everyone safe.

Typically, rules for a pool or waterfront will clearly be posted. If you or your child is asked to follow a rule and you don’t understand why, it might be useful to ask a lifeguard why that rule exists so you can get a better understanding of it.

While I was a head guard at my local pool, people got upset when we told them they weren’t able to use non-coast guard approved life vest or floaties for their child in the pool — but the fact was we had experiences where a child would fall backward while wearing this vest and would get stuck in an unsafe position. Plus the “baby” pool went from six-inches to two-and-a-half feet, so with adult supervision they could be able to stand in the pool.

Here are some basic manners for swimming that are at many pool or waterfront facilities:

  • Wear appropriate swimwear — meaning do not wear jeans and a t-shirt in the water. That can weigh you down and cause an unsafe situation.
  • Shower before going into the pool. Honestly, I don’t always follow this rules but it is put in place to help keep the pool a cleaner place.
  • Walk and no “horse-play,” such as splashing, pushing people in, etc.
  • At a waterfront, only swim in the designated swimming area, which is usually roped off with buoys and ropes.
  • Do not use profane language, as this is a public facility and there are impressionable minds around.
  • If you have a first aid situation, get the attention of a lifeguard as soon as possible.
  • Only dive in designated areas.
  • Do not discharge bodily fluids in the pool.
  • During an emergency situation, it’s best for you to step back and give the lifeguards space to do their work. If they need help from the public, they will ask.
  • For lap swim: pools will have different rules in place and some may have lanes designated on your swimming speed. At many pools, the rule is that when the pool is not busy, two swimmers can share a lane side-by-side but if it gets busier, you must “circle swim” and swim on the right both ways like you would on a road. This allows many more people to use the facilities at the same time.

If you have a question about a rule or a specific situation, just ask the lifeguard.

I do want to admit this topic was in part inspired by a questionable manners situation I encountered recently. I’m a member of a local workout facility with a pool, and was going to do some laps. The pool was particularly busy that morning and there were at least two people to each lane and, when asked to change from side-by-side swimming to circle swim to accommodate another person, another swimmer flat up told me no. Posted rules state during peak times, you have to circle swim.

To clear up the situation, I went to the lifeguard on duty and asked her what the rule was. She affirmed my belief and offered to speak to the man. She got his attention and explained the rule — hopefully he’ll remember that the next time he’s lap swimming in a busy pool.

Overall, just try to be courteous of the other swimmers and staff at the pool. Rules are in place for a reason and if you can’t or won’t follow them you will likely be asked to leave the facilities.

If you have any questions or to suggest topics for discussion, please email me at hgowans@eaglenewsonline.com. Until next time, mind your modern manners!

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Hayleigh Gowans
Hayleigh Gowans

I am a reporter for the Eagle Bulletin and Cazenovia Republican at Eagle News. I report on topics ranging from town and village government, business, news and features. I am a 2014 graduate of the Roy H. Park School of Communications and have a degree in Journalism and a minor in Psychology.

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