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Thread: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Do any of you across this great land swim at a YMCA indoor facility that does NOT automatically close the pool whenever there are thunderstorms in the area?

    Two of our three practices this week have been cancelled because of thunderstorms.

    On another thread, someone posted how the total number of deaths from indoor pool electrocutions during thunderstorms--in the history of the world--total precisely zero.

    I have made this argument endlessly to our Y authorities, all to no avail. Two university pools--Pitt and CMU--do NOT close their indoor pools because of lightning and, in fact, find the concept chortlesome.

    If you do swim at a Y pool with a more enlightened policy, can you send word as to how you got your aquatic staff to override the (misguided) national YMCA policy about this?

    Signed--

    Slowly desiccating in Sewickley, Pa

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    Very Active Member gigi's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    So is it a Y thing?

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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Our Y will close the pool until they get the all clear, meaning that if there has been no thunder/lightning in the 30 minutes preceding the time that they last hear/see it.
    I have never been in the water while this has happened at our local Y. The only time I have had to deal with a storm was one evening when there were storms there was no masters practice (no coaches) but the pool was still open and we were able to swim anyways.
    I believe that most pools have some sort of lightning/storm policy.

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Well, just went to the Y for an easy swim. I made it through 200 yards and TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! EVERYBODY OUT!

    Apparently, the lifeguard sensed that somewhere on Planet Earth, lightning was striking!

    Someone asked how long we needed to stay out.

    "Thirty minutes till there are no more rumbles of thunder," she said.

    It was 3:30. The Y closes at 4--"summer hours."

    Meanwhile, they are spending a small fortune expanding the parking lot so people won't have to walk 150 yards from the old parking lot when they come to exercise, assuming, that is, they make it before "summer hours" forces the facility closed.

    Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

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    Very Active Member aquageek's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Y's are ridiculous about closures. You might as well try to convince a rock about this for all the good it will do you to talk to the aquatics director.

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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Same 30 minute rule at the Ys I've been to in Michigan - I don't know it might be their national policy. Does insurance have anything to do with it?

    This is one of the main reasons I finally quit that place (along with noodlers/lane limitations, hot water, and disgusting lockerooms). I look outside today and it's been overcast all day, probably could hear a hint of thunder in the distance if you listened close enough. There wouldn't be any sense going to the Y pool right now.

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    Swimming gives me a buzz! Bobinator's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    The Monon Center here is Carmel, Indiana has the same stupid indoor thunder policy. I thought they were joking the first time I had to leave the indoor pool
    for thunder. I can understand this policy for outdoor pools but indoor it seems crazy!
    HTFU!

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I wonder if anybody at USMS could intercede on behalf of us Y swimmers? I think it is, indeed, a national policy, but it seems to me a misguided one. I think the harm done by keeping people from a healthy form of physical activity is much greater than some theoretical risk that some misguided Y committee decided to implement to lower insurance or what have you.

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    Very Active Member swimmerb212's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I just completed Red Cross Lifeguard certification, and closing an indoor pool in lightning is one of their recommendations. My Coach, who taught the class, pretty much admitted that it's not a problem, but that's because he is confident in his pool. (Also, our pool has no windows, so who even knows?) It is technically possible that outside lightning can electrify an indoor pool, if Mars and Venus are aligned and the lightning hits at exactly 36 degrees to the ground... But extremely unlikely, especially if the pool is newer construction.

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    Very Active Member waves101's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Our Y does not close when lightning is about. If its a good cloud to ground storm I may choose not to go but the pool is still open.

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    Very Active Member Muppet's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    From the National Lightning Safety Institute:

    Indoor Pool report

    More indoor pool

    YMCA Guidelines

    if your YMCA insists these are rules, feel free to get all Captain Jack Sparrow on them - the lightning code of action are more like guidelines, NOT rules, and the pdf specifically says that.

    if your pool/building is not grounded properly, i don't think the guidelines are a bad policy. personally, i get very nervous swimming during a thunderstorm, but moreso because when the UMD tornado came through campus Sept 2001, we all watched it come within 50m of the pool.

    in practice, i think people can afford to loosen up a bit. anyone can look at radar and figure out where the stormiest parts of a storm will pass. i think it mentioned it in one of these links, but lightning follows the path of least resistance, and while it is unpredictable, the likelihood of a bolt traveling several lateral miles away from its source - and with so many other juicy places to hit in between - has to be really slim. if the bad parts are coming right for you, sure, evacuate - but if you're on the outskirts of the meat of the storm, perhaps you can consider letting swimmers continue.
    man up, buttercup!

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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I think it's an insurance issue. It's also the state law. I just know it's always been that way where I have swum. It's not just a Y thing..

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    Very Active Member Donna's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I have the same problem at my Y. They are quick to close at a rumble of thunder off in the distance. The kids I coach don't like having to miss practice. That is why I have started encouraging those who are members to come swim in the morning on their own on days we are supposed to have storms. Then if we get kicked out the Y has to put up with us in the weight room.

    The aquatic center where I train stays open unless the storm is directly over head.
    Donna Hooe
    GAJA/Savannah Masters/GCAT
    Certified Level 2 ASCA Coach

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    Very Active Member chaos's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    this policy is nonsense, as are most lightning/swimming policies.

    ever been pulled out of the water to wait out a passing storm sitting in an open boat? yeah.... thats safer.

    there is a greater chance of being struck by a lingering piece of skylab scrap metal than there is being struck by lightning in a pool..... indoors or outdoors.

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    Very Active Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I remember a local USA-S outdoor swim meet in progress when a t-storm arrived. It was iffy most of the day; but halfway through a heat of the 200 IM the front blew in. Winds were gusting over 60mph, it started pouring rain, lots of lightning and thunder.

    One of the fastest girls in the heat kept going after the other girls stopped. So an official stuck a big long metal pole in her lane to let her know the meet was stopped due to lightning... ?!

    The school pool in my area and our club's policy is to not swim during t-storms. However, the private health club I belong to doesn't care as long as we keep up on our payments.

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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    A lifeguard out our Y thought she heard thunder coming from a huge smoke cloud from a wrecked tanker truck on the highway. I told her it was smoke, but she still closed the pool for 30 minutes.

    Our big Y has the golf course lightning system, which measures the electrical charge in the atmosphere. Once it reaches a certain number, the pool closes. I've seen lightning bolts in the area and the Y stayed open with this system. I'm sure it's expensive, but worth it in my opinion.

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    Participating Member Wild William's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Our local Y has amended the policy to give some discretion the matter. Generally, if the thunderstorm is severe or if cloud to ground lightning is blasting away the guards will close. However the occasional flashes do not necessarily close the pool.

    The guard once told me he wasn't sure of the policy and asked me if he should close the pool. I said there was no problem keeping it open (what else was I going to say; my workout was not done).

    I always thought it was curious that they close the pool but do not clear the showers. You would think that regardless of the water source if its a problem, its a problem.

    ww

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    Very Calm Member jim clemmons's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim thornton View Post
    TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET! EVERYBODY OUT!

    Someone asked how long we needed to stay out.

    "Thirty minutes till there are no more rumbles of thunder," she said.

    It was 3:30. The Y closes at 4--"summer hours."
    James,

    The "rumbles" were probably coming from her stomach. She was just hungry and couldn't wait any longer. Next time bring your lifeguard a snack or move out west. We are rarely interrupted by the weather. 'Sides, we'd compliment each other well on a relay together.

    Jim

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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I live and swim outdoors a couple miles from a pretty large Air Force weapons testing and training site. There are still times I (and any lifeguards) can't tell the difference between actual thunder and the AF just blowing stuff up again.

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    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: YMCA pools, Thunderstorms, Out of Water exceptions?

    I may (or may not) have swum (currently swim?) in a Y (or Y-like) pool that apparently does not know (ignores?) this policy. I hesitate to reply because I don't want to ruin it for me. This pool also operates outside of a couple of other recommendations for operating a pool, but it works for me. Just don't ask me what shape the drains are.

    Back in high school (age group club), we trained in a University indoor pool that always closed for lightning which is frequent in Florida summers. However, at that point in my life, it was much more blessing than curse.

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