The city pool in Mason is a remarkable asset for a town of only 2100 people. Though the pool was originally constructed a long time ago it is structurally sound and still quite functional. The $40,000 the city spent on upgrading the equipment last year included a top of the line 7.5 h.p. pump, 26 s.q. ft. high rate sand filter, and chemical feed system with digital read out. With proper maintenance there is no reason for the pool to be anything but clear, blue, and algae free at all times. That is one of my goals for this season.
Another of my goals was for the pool to be more available to the people of Mason. In the past the pool was only open to the public for 16 hours per week. The old schedule also allowed for 20 hours for maintenance including one whole day of closure and more than 23 hours for private party rental. Our new schedule allows up to 39 hours per week for public swimming, 6 hours per week for fitness and competition swimming, 5 hours for adult only swimming, up to 28 hours per week for private party rental, and 14 hours per week for maintenance.
I also wanted the pool open as long as possible while the weather is warm enough to use it. The pool opened on Memorial Day and I would like to keep it open beyond Labor Day but this may not be possible as I will lose nearly all my lifeguards once school starts. I have found that 2 hours per day is more than enough time for the maintenance if I can keep the lifeguards on task. I have personally done most of the chemical maintenance.
I wish to publicly address an incident that happened Wednesday June 9th during the 1st swim session. The reason for addressing this is that I understand this is a small town and news travels fast but as I have learned is not always accurately reported. The facts as I know them to be are that I had gone to the city office to exchange coins for cash so the lifeguard at the gate would be able to give proper change for larger denomination bills.
I had just returned when I noticed that all 4 lifeguards were standing in a group talking and drying themselves off with towels and there were swimmers in the pool. I called out to the head lifeguard and she turned toward me a boy of about 10 years of age scrambled up on the lifeguard stand next to where the lifeguards were and dove into the deep end of the pool. The head lifeguard turned her attention to the boy and I returned my attention to the cash box. (It should be noted here that the lifeguards get a 5 minute break every hour with the pool being cleared of all swimmers. Sometimes the lifeguards swim during that break, and that is what happened on that day. The best I can reconstruct is that simply, the situation got out of the control of the lifeguards.)
I then spoke to my head lifeguard about what I had just witnessed and possible consequences. About that time my immediate supervisor Joe Martinez and his superior, John Palacio, came through the pool gate. One of the adults present had called the city office to complain about the lifeguards and their lack of supervision. I got an earful, not only from them but from a young Mother who had been a lifeguard in the past. I agree completely with what they had to say.
My head lifeguard is in her 5th season at the Mason City pool. She does many things well and I have relied on her a lot. Without her we would not have been completely ready for the Memorial Day opening. She had an explanation for what happened but the fact remains that there were swimmers in the pool and however temporarily, the lifeguards were not at their posts. As for the boy who dove off the lifeguard stand, he got off easy. I would have sent him home for the rest of the day for such flagrant misconduct.
I am taking steps to insure there is no repeat of the incidents of June 9th and I am asking for cooperation from all the parents, especially those with younger children or children who do not swim well. These children need a parent or guardian in attendance. I will be requiring all children under the age of 10 to be accompanied by someone 16 years of age or older. My lifeguards are not babysitters. We would appreciate your co-operation.