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roseth
June 14th, 2005, 12:43 AM
Hi all,

I am the president of my team, and we recently instituted a policy after having an increasing number of parents bringing children along to workout. (Usually in the case of both parents being swimmers, and one swims while the other watches the child, and then they switch off for the next workout.) We found a need to institute a policy after seeing a wide range of what parents considered to be acceptable behavior, and to be an acceptable level of supervision.

I am wondering if any of you would be willing to share any info about this subject at your team. I am wondering:

- Are members at your team allowed to bring children with them to workouts?
- Does your team have a written policy about this subject (for example, child must have an adult supervising them, child cannot be within a certain distance of the pool, etc.)? If so, can you share the wording of that policy?

Thanks for any info!

valhallan
June 14th, 2005, 08:47 AM
This sounds like a judgement call for the aquatics department, which could takes the onus off of you as the team president.

Our facility (a YMCA) prohibits any children on deck without adult supervision. There is a big sign saying so as you enter the pool area. The lifeguards are not baby sitters, and their eyes and attention should be focused on the pool, not the deck.

Our workouts are at 6am which pretty much rules out any kids being present at that time. You must have pm workouts, because I don't know of any kids who get up at that hour unless they're swimming fools themselves.:)

Rob Copeland
June 14th, 2005, 09:20 AM
In my 25+ years in Masters, the clubs Iíve been associated with have never had policies about bringing children to workouts. However a number of the facilities where we worked out have had policies. And these policies have varied greatly, depending on the facility (public pool, private pool, YMCA, university, etc.)

It should be noted that at a USMS workout, children are never allowed in the workout lanes. So you donít need to write any policy addressing in water issues.

Does your workout facility have any rules regarding children?

At my current club we swim at a public pool where a number of parents bring their children and send the kids off to the play pool, while we workout.

Tom Ellison
June 14th, 2005, 11:48 AM
For years in Texas I swam with a single parent. Every morning at 5:30 AM she would bring her young son to practice sleeping in her arms, then put him in a lounge chair on the side of the pool in his blanket, then she would swim. It was never an issue or problem and the team loved them both. Many mornings he would go swimming with us during cool down and everyone kept a close eye on him. He loved to daydream in the hot showers after practice, which make his Mom late for work, so I took on the responsibility of keeping him on track/time. Never did anyone on the team feel as though the kid was a problem in any way. Had the team not chipped in and welcomed this little boy, his mother would not have been able to swim.

Rob Copeland
June 14th, 2005, 01:30 PM
Tom,

A great story and a wonderful example of the fellowship and camaraderie of Masters Swimmers.

It puts me in mind of another story of a couple of very active Masters Swimmers. Their son was born on a Wednesday, 3 days before a meet they were helping to run. On Saturday, mom and baby showed up at the meet and dad helped out. The next year the wife started coaching a masters club. She would bring the son along to practice, and similar to Tomís experience the team sort of adopted him. A couple of years later they had a daughter who also became a regular at practice. A side note; the wife ran practice on Wednesday, gave birth Thursday, missed Friday practice and was back at the pool for Sunday practice; with baby. The club and kids all turned out fine. If we had banned the kids, we never would have had the coach and the club would most likely have floundered.

craiglll@yahoo.com
June 14th, 2005, 01:51 PM
This may sound really harsh. But under no circumstances should there ever be children simply standing around a pool deck. It is not the job of hte lifeguard to babysit nor is it the job of the coach. Why not set up an off-site bady sitting area?

Rob Copeland
June 14th, 2005, 03:15 PM
Originally posted by craiglll@yahoo.com
This may sound really harsh. But under no circumstances should there ever be children simply standing around a pool deck.
Youíre right it does sound harsh. Currently my club works out at a public pool. We get 4 lanes of the 8 lane competition pool, the other 4 lanes are open for public swimming and a second play pool is also open to the general public. At any given time, during our Masters workout, there may be 100 or more kids on the deck and in the other lanes/pool. Might this be a circumstance where children are allowed to simply stand around a pool deck?

roseth
June 14th, 2005, 06:20 PM
Well in our case we are renting lanes at a facility that is closed to the public at the times of our workouts. So technically the facility does not allow children on deck at that time, or I suppose it is a gray area. At any rate, it is the pool management who makes the rules, and they suggested enforcing a no-child rule after a few incidents of disagreement between lifeguards and parents regarding what was OK. (I won't bother to give examples.)

In hopes of not leaving our swimming parents hamstrung, we wrote a policy that pool management was agreeable to trying for a while before they move forward with disallowing children at the pool. Well, wouldn't you know it, the board went to bat for these people and now they are steaming mad at us. I guess no good deed goes unpunished.

Anyway, after all the dust-up I am curious about this situation at other teams. Interestingly I see the discussion on this board evolving similarly to the one happening on our team. Like, at what age is it ok for a child to be alone on the deck? What is considered adequate supervision? Is a parent swimming while their infant is in a stroller on the side of the pool adequate? What about parents who take offense to lifeguards' authority? It's all become so complicated, and everybody wants a waiver for THEIR kid, I've become sorely tempted to return to pool management and request that they go ahead with their ban so we can all get back to swimming.

valhallan
June 14th, 2005, 06:50 PM
Originally posted by roseth
Like, at what age is it ok for a child to be alone on the deck? What is considered adequate supervision? Is a parent swimming while their infant is in a stroller on the side of the pool adequate? What about parents who take offense to lifeguards' authority?

For liability reasons most likely, children under the age of twelve need a parent according to our YMCA rules. If the lifeguard gets any grief doing his job, the director will politely ask the troublesome members to leave.

Leaving kids on deck, especially infants in strollers sounds like a bad idea. An attorney's dream case if that baby ever wound up in the water, no matter how well intentioned the set up is. Liability would fall directly on the facility for creating the recipe of a potential drowning.

It sounds like the kids need to have some supervised group fun.

Alex
June 14th, 2005, 07:02 PM
In case I have a pool under my responsability I would have a policy anounced in a big sign at the entrance of the pool to be like:

"No children are allowed at the deck unattended, lap swimming people would not be considered as being able to supervice any children wile practicing".

It would be the coach decition if he(she) wants to take care of a kid wile its parent swim, as Tom's history case, I guess that in the case of an infant in its chair, it would not be a serious problem, as the only thing that the infant can do is to cry and in that case, the coach can just tell the parent.

FindingMyInnerFish
June 15th, 2005, 07:21 AM
This example is more related to running than swimming but it might be helpful: I ran for a while with a club that had a rotating/cooperative babysitting service for members who wanted to bring children to workouts. Those who wanted to benefit from this service took a turn at babysitting--which maybe would be once every five or six weeks, so they'd miss that one practice but otherwise could know that their child was being supervised by someone they knew.

I wasn't directly involved b/c I don't have children, but it seemed to work pretty well.

thinkersw
June 16th, 2005, 01:44 PM
At the pool that I swam at and work out, we had a similar problem. At one point a few years ago, there were as many as eight women bringing their children to Masters practice where they expected the coach to watch the children. All of these children were young and so were strapped into baby carriers, but the poor coach would be stressed trying to calm crying babies. Other mothers were bringing playpens for the children to play in, but this entire situation was not a good situation. There were lap swimmers that would leave their children in baby carriers at the end of the lane while they swam. Finally, the pool directors passed a rule that unattended children were not allowed to be on deck. As a coach myself, I am greatful for this rule. As a coach and a lifeguard, I should not be responsible for unattended children on the deck. As a coach, I want to put my energies into providing a good workout and helping with technique, not babysitting. Children should not be brought to workouts.

The mothers on the team have developed strategies for dealing with this new rule. One mother will watch the children for the practice and then the other mother will watch the children while the first mother does the workout. Their is a daycare nearby that has reasonable rates for an hour or two of daycare. Some mothers have formed groups so two of the mothers will swim Mon., Wed, and Fri and babysit the other children on the other days so that the other mothers can swim Tues, Thurs, Sat.

ande
June 16th, 2005, 02:27 PM
Young unsupervised children should never be on deck. Something tragic could happen in a careless moment. Imagine a worst case situation on the 6:00 news. The parent could be held negligent. Children can be a distraction for the parent, the swimmers, and the coach.

The parent needs to arrange proper childcare for their children.

ande

craiglll@yahoo.com
June 16th, 2005, 04:13 PM
Originally posted by Rob Copeland
Youíre right it does sound harsh. Currently my club works out at a public pool. We get 4 lanes of the 8 lane competition pool, the other 4 lanes are open for public swimming and a second play pool is also open to the general public. At any given time, during our Masters workout, there may be 100 or more kids on the deck and in the other lanes/pool. Might this be a circumstance where children are allowed to simply stand around a pool deck?
Rob, I stand by my statement. If kids are standing aroud not in the desiganted area where they can be, they are a distraction. I forgot to write this in my first statement because it really upsets me. Once a girl was playing with kickboards owned by the team I wa practicing with. the lifeguards for the other parts of the pool whicha at the time where open t he public thought that the little girl was with the team. She wan't. The kickboard popped out fromunderneath her bottom, she wa sitting on it, and broke her wind pipe. the lifeguards thought that the gfirl was with us becasue so many on the team brought their children and some fool on the team told the lifeguards that we would be responsible for our own children.

nkfrench
July 13th, 2005, 04:32 PM
2 stories. Pool decks aren't for unsupervised kids.

1 - Mom & dad are Masters swimmers. Their 2 little girls are on the age group swim team. While mom & dad swim, the girls hang around on deck; their group didn't have practice at the same time. The girls got bored and either hang around the other coaches and distract them, or do something dangerous (eg: hanging upside down swinging from the dip bars over the concrete deck). The pool is only used for club practice, no lifeguards. It isn't fair to the other swimmers for the coaches to be babysitting.

2 - Mom left her 2-year-old twins in a stroller on the deck while she was socializing. Another small child (4 ? 6? ) pushed the stroller in the deep end, watched it sink. Head coach raced across the pool deck and dove in, but the stroller was too heavy to swim up. The twins were strapped in tight. Coach pushed the stroller up the bottom incline to shallower water; another adult grabbed the handle. Happily, when the twins got above water they did a huge gasp for air (had been holding their breath) and thought it had been a game. The child that pushed them in had no idea what he was doing. :eek: