Pool safety is paramount wherever there is a swimming pool and in particular, pools used by many people at one time i.e. public municipal  pools and school pools.

At Paul Roos Gymnasium, a school of some 1200 boys, it is extremely important therefore for rules and regulations to be in place, and to ensure these are well understood by those using the pool.

Standard practical rules such as …No pushing of anyone into the pool….and….No running around the pool deck….. at a boys school are necessary, and must carry penalties in order to show just how serious an issue breaking the rules is. If the penalty is deemed ‘soft’, then problems will continue in that area.

Adequate adult supervision is probably the most important overall consideration as it tends to be when boys are not supervised, that injuries will most often occur. Why? Simple – people are ‘messing’ around. Here, a roster of pool usage, as well as who will be in charge during the time slots allocated to the various aquatics disciplines, is very important and these coaches/managers/supervisors need to people who can react to a problem in the water. For example, it is no good having a coach/manager/supervisor of an aquatics sport, or ‘on duty’ at the pool, who cannot swim nor having a basic 1st Aid course behind them.

Where coaching time slots are set up, be they for water polo, swimming, synchronized swimming or diving, safety becomes part and parcel of the time spent practising those disciplines, as the coach/supervisor creates structures around which swimmers are set to work/play the game. It is when there are no structures in place, that safety becomes an issue. So at any pool, especially public pools and large pools such as are found at schools, clear guidelines as to how swimmers should act and good support structures – e.g. coaching – should be in place.

By Rob MacLean, Anthonij Rupert Aquatics Centre, Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch

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