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Changes make for longer hours, safer swimming

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Mikayla Hayes, 7, right, jumps into the water at Greenville Community Pool on July 20, 2018. The red wrist band means she must stay in the shallowest part of the pool.


By Maya Jarrell
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Swimmers at the Greenville Community Pool are taking advantage of extended hours to help make up for time lost earlier in the summer to equipment failure, and a new wristband policy is keeping them safer

The Myrtle Street facility had to delay its season by about two weeks while repairs were made to its filtration system. Attendance has been at or near the 125-person capacity most days since it opened June 23, said Don Octigan, recreation superintendent with the city’s Recreation and Parks Department.

“Public swim hours are currently still 1:30-5, except on Wednesday and Thursday,” Octigan said. “We extended the hours on Wednesday and Thursday nights, so public swim hours are 1:30-7 o’clock. We did that because of the lost time we had. Unfortunately, we can’t do it the others days due to programming needs.”

The pool hosts a variety of camps, team practices and other programs outside public swim hours. The time change will continue for the rest of the season until the pool closes for the year on Aug. 11. The closing date falls two weeks before Pitt County Schools go back in session on Aug. 27.

When asked about extending the season in coming years, Octigan said that options for the future will be evaluated at the end of this year, and based on funding the season may be extended.

In addition to changes to better accommodate schedules, pool staff also have made a couple of tweaks to better ensure the safety of their patrons.

The pool has expanded a safety policy that requires visitors to take a swim test in order to swim. After taking the test patrons receive a wristband that is color coordinated to the section of the pool where they are allowed to swim.

“We actually have always had a policy with wristbands,” Recreation Supervisor Dalace Inman said. “People took a swim test that was very similar to go into the dive tank, which is the 12-feet-deep area. We have now expanded it to include the 5-foot area, because we found we were doing a lot of ... rescues in that area.”

The change coincides with a major settlement between the family of a near-drowning victim, the cities of Kinston and Rocky Mount and the owners of Lions Water Adventure Park, where a boy who could not swim suffered severe brain damage after being under water for several minutes. That last actions in that case, which began in 2014, was settled in late June. The family was awarded more than $14 million.

In Greenville, beginning swimmers are assigned a red wrist band and must stay in the shallow portion of the pool, yellow banded swimmers have tested to show they are able to swim well enough to be in the 5-foot area, and green bands show that patrons can swim anywhere including the 12-foot diving well. Pool staff has made the process to venture out of the shallow end very simple for those who wish to take the test.

“They would approach a lifeguard — and during camps we actually put somebody out there at the beginning of camp sessions — and they choose to take it,” Inman said. “We give them the information up front when they come in of what it is. It’s treading for a minute, and then swimming 25 yards. The color wristband they get depends on how well they swim.”

This tread-time has also been made slightly longer than in previous years to comply with the American Red Cross’ water competency sequence. The pool keeps records of test results and issues wrist bands to swimmers at each visit so they don’t have to retake their tests.

“It has been great, our staff is handling it well,” Octigan said. “It has increased our safety protocol for the pool, and has worked out really well. With [the pool] being opened late there is a lot of rush to get the swim tests completed, but our staff has been really professional and are handling it really well.”

The facility is open to the public at a cost of $1.50 with free admission for children 4 and younger. All children must be accompanied by an adult. It operates 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and is closed on Sunday.

Contact Maya Jarrell at mjarrell@reflector.com and 329-9590.