Category Archives: Regulation

Do You need a CPO®?

When I joined TMI, I had never heard of a Certified Pool Operator (CPO®). I had no idea they existed.  People really undertake training and education just to take care of a pool? Why? I’d seen my grandfather squint at a pink sample of pool water and throw a few more pucks of chlorine into the floating dispenser, so how hard could it be? A few months later I completed my CPO® course and really began to understand how much there was to know about a pool. Now, 5 years on, I’ve gone on to become an NSPF® Instructor, but I’ll be the first to admit that I still learn something new about this industry every day. As a pool professional, I can honestly say that if I could sell every pool owner on just one point, it would be that an educated staff is one of the best investments you can make.

Do you need to have a Certified Pool Operator® working on your pool? In many states, the legal answer is yes. If you’re not sure if your state requires all pools to be staffed with Certified Pool Operators®, you may be able to find your state (or county) codes here at the National Swimming Pool Foundation® website.

So if you’re in a state where there is no legal requirement, why should you take the extra step to hire a CPO®, or send an existing employee to CPO® training? Simply put, having your pool maintained by an educated professional is the smart thing to do. Did you visit the code page I linked to above? Did you notice that not only does NSPF link to each states code requirements but that in some cases they link to individual county codes? Currently in the United States, there are over 80 separate local codes that govern the maintenance and operation of our pools. While there is a movement towards a national set of guidelines (CDC Model Health Aquatic Code), it is your responsibility to know your local regulations and make sure your pool is in compliance. Most CPO® courses will cover the most important regulations as they apply to your area and will encourage familiarity with all local codes, as well as will encourage the CPO® student to see the state inspector as an ally. Wouldn’t you rather know that you’re prepared for the next surprise inspection, rather than worry that you’ll pass it?

Beyond knowing your local codes, a CPO® has the knowledge to understand and enforce them. A CPO® often has an understanding of a wide variety of systems pertaining to aquatic facilities. They have been trained in the safe handling and storage of common pool chemicals, understand safety procedures in regards to facility maintenance and up keep, know what to look for when it comes to facility wear and tear, and have been educated on the safe and proper management of an aquatic environment.

Finally, and most importantly, a CPO® understands water. Water is far more complex than most people give it credit for. Full of minerals like calcium, copper and salt, and teaming with live creatures such as bacteria, water is not nearly as benign as it appears. Water craves balance. Unbalanced water can do amazing, and devastating, things. Look at the Grand Canyon. Yep, a little water did that. Ok, a lot of water did that. But the same really can apply to your pool.  Is there too much calcium in your pool water? Your water will kindly deposit that calcium in your pipes, on your tile, and in your heaters. Not enough? Your water will simply suck the calcium that it needs right out of your plaster walls. Pool water also craves a balance in the measured pH, alkalinity and sanitizer levels. Too much of one, not enough of the others and you’re headed for a dangerous situation.

Consider how many adults, and perhaps children, use your aquatic facilities on a daily basis and think about how expensive your pump room equipment is. Do you really want to leave that pool in the hands of the untrained janitorial staff? Or the fresh out of high school lifeguards? Or perhaps the fitness trainers? I’ve seen pools managed by all of these well-meaning, but entirely unsuited persons. Generally these people try their best to operate equipment they don’t understand, while still working at their other responsibilities. The pool simply isn’t their main focus and inevitably suffers for it, be it via equipment failure or water quality issues. In most cases, hiring or training a Certified Pool Operator® would have been the smarter, and more economic, way to go.

A Certified Pool Operator® is a bit like an insurance policy against unnecessary pool closures and costly equipment replacements. With a CPO® maintaining proper water balance, you’re less likely to replace a corroded or calcified heater every few years. You’re less likely to face inspection violations. Instead, you’re more likely to have a safe, inviting environment where bathers want to be. So, do you need a CPO®?

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Are Aquatic Wheel Chairs Flawed?

The Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations for public swimming pools define two primary means of access for aquatic facilities. These are swimming pool lifts and sloped entries.

 

The reason that these two means of access are designated as primary is that they can provide assistance to a wider variety of users then the secondary means of access. The secondary means of access are transfer walls, transfer systems, and accessible stairs.

 

One thing to keep in mind when selecting a primary means of access for a swimming pool is the ability of potential swimmers to use the selected means of access independently. The primary goal of the ADA is to create an environment where people with disabilities can independently participate in society. This is why one of the requirements for swimming pool lifts is that they be capable of independent operation. Sloped entries are a primary means of access, and serve as an excellent way to enter and exit a pool for ambulatory swimmers. Sloped entries are much safer than either steps or stairs, especially for seniors.

 

Some wheelchair users, however, may have a difficult time trying to independently enter a swimming pool using a sloped entry. The combination of the slope plus the added buoyancy and friction created by the water, make independently exiting a pool a real challenge for wheelchair users. Additionally, the design of most aquatic wheelchairs compounds the problem, by creating additional instability.

 

Please see the attached two videos that demonstrate the problems discussed in the previous paragraph. The first video shows the general problems with trying to independently use a wheelchair on a sloped entry. The second video was shot to present a better designed aquatic wheelchair. The second video was shot while the wheelchair was in its design phase.

 

In conclusion, sloped entries are wonderful means of access for ambulatory swimmers.  However, keep in mind who will be using this means of access, as it may not be the optimal way for some wheelchair users to get into a pool.

Yards vs. Meters vs. Meters

Every wonder why competitive swimming has three (3) different courses of play; short course yards, short course meters, and long course meters.  And why are there two different “mile” races, 1650-yards and 1500-meters? And for the record, a mile is closer to 1600-meters or 1750-yards. 

America is the only country on the planet using the “English” system of inches, feet, and miles (OK, technically Liberia and Myanmar are often listed as sad-sack English unit users). Interestingly, even England utilizes the metric system. In the 1970’s the United States made an half-hearted and unsuccessful attempt to convert Americans to the metric system. From gallons to liters and from miles to kilometers, Americans resisted the change. In track and field, running tracks were converted from 440 yards to 400 meters; however lengthening all of the nation’s swimming pools from yards to meters never caught on; it is extremely prohibitive to say the least.

USA Swimming’s current leadership is currently making another push toward the metric system. Spring Nationals are to be competed in 25 meters, while the summer Nationals will continue to be in 50-meter pools. The NCAA experimented with a similar plan; however abandon the plan shortly thereafter.

Related to yards vs. meters, USA Swimming’s Senior Swimming Committee previously recommended to stop hosting the spring Nationals altogether. National Championships competed in yards have no comparison to other times in the world or world record possibilities. Even from a marketing standpoint, it is difficult to explain to sponsors why there are two Nationals every year.  There is only one World Series, Super Bowl, or NBA Championship. USA Swimming’s initiative failed, but many believe the Spring Nationals are not truly a National Championship because so many eligible competitors do not elect to attend due to their proximity to the NCAA Swimming Championships, many of America’s finer athletes opted not to attend the USA Nationals due to missed school, financial, and motivational reasons.

It is not expected that 25-yard pools will be obsolete in the near future, but forward-thinking Owners should consider a “stretch” pool with a bulkhead to accommodate multiple race course configurations for yards and meters.  Other design possibilities exist, including a 25-yard x 25-meter pool, but the flexibility of pool length and even flexibility of water depth, though initially expensive, may be of paramount importance in the future.

The MAHC: Evolution or Revolution for the Future?

I heard a thought leader, a friend, take  issue with adoption of the CDC  Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) since it’s being  positioned as an “evolution” in design and operations rather than a needed  “revolution.”

Half of the United States is not united on requiring  that the person operating the public pool have any verifiable training.  Designers, architects, engineers and builders  create pools that minimize risk, but if they are driven by uneducated  operators, then the kids playing in the pool are at greater risk.

Like many “mass” phenomena, they  can be represented by a bell curve (normal distribution). On one end are  fabulous state of the art facilities that are ideal to protect against acute  illness (RWIs) and against chronic illness (DPBs). On the other end of the bell  curve are cesspools disguised as swimming pools with dated engineering and  ignorant operations. What seems “evolutionary” to a leader is “revolutionary”  to the low end of the bell curve.

Don’t be discouraged by the word or thought  of “evolution” versus “revolution.” Which end of the bell  curve poses the greatest risk to people? If a MAHC is adopted and it raises the  bar a little for the top half of the bell curve and a lot for the bottom half  of the bell curve, wouldn’t that be a good thing?  If you agree with my  logic, then become a champion for adoption of the MAHC.

What we have been doing, has not been  working. Having 80-90+ codes around the country is a fabulous waste of time for  government, industry, and aquatic facilities. Having operators with no  verifiable training is reckless. A MAHC unadopted is a MAHC undone.  A  MAHC unadopted is a future undone. Help get it adopted. It will be the best  kind of revolution, one that can evolve.

Republished from the NSPF Blog

The Importance of Dry Land Training

Diving in the 21st Century has developed to a new level of excellence. In order to win a high level competition, an athlete must perform high degree of difficulty dives with the highest quality. Consistency and precision are the indicators of high quality dives and for a diver to perform at this level, the answer is dry land training.  

In order to control body position and perform a graceful and precise difficult dive, a diver needs good body awareness and excellent spatial orientation. This is an essential ability for a diver. The way to improve and enhance this ability is to open the eyes and use vision to spot the water and see reference points during the somersaults. Visual spotting helps the diver develop better judgment of his/her body position, somersault location and somersault speed in the air. This will enhance the body’s awareness and spatial orientation. After the diver masters visual spotting and correct come-out techniques, the diver will become far more consistent and precise performing these hard dives.  

Modern indoor dry land training has taken the sport to a new level and has raised the bar in training techniques. It has also allowed far greater number of dives to be performed in training in a shorter time frame and has of course provided safety for the diver whilst attempting these difficult maneuvers’. Dry Land is also part and parcel of a competition requirement now and at every meet and in particular, at the senior and international level, many venues that previously hosted international competitions had them taken away and a facility with modern dry land facilities were chosen. It is now standard even for the host of the Olympic Games to have a dry land area for training despite the Games only running for 16 days. 

Indoor Dry Land training is now a common practice in the sport of diving and any new facility that is built these days must incorporate an indoor dry land facility for training programs, club training, hosting of national and international competitions and for domestic and international camps.