Opinion

UC pool lifeguards need better, stricter supervision

There are many things that one can complain about, but one of the least thought about issues at this university seems to be the way our pools are run and how much we demand from our lifeguards.

Being a lifeguard myself, I am aware of the duties and responsibilities that come with being on duty. I was deeply disturbed while sitting at the pool a few evenings ago close to pool closing, to see all three lifeguards distracted from their primary duty, watching the pool. While observing these individuals I noticed that talking, reading the latest issue of The Hurricane, and putting seats up, were more important than the numerous kids and adults swimming in the pool. An elderly lady was in the pool that evening, and I wondered what would happen if she suddenly stopped swimming. I am glad that nothing happened to that lady, but if something did, I am left to wonder how long it would have taken our distracted lifeguards to notice.

Accidents and emergencies are not planned for. They do not happen while you are waiting, they happen when you least suspect them to, and anyone can fall victim. As a trained lifeguard would know, not all victims scream out for help, some just float face down, this is what is called a passive drowning victim.

I was also upset by the fact that despite the presence of lifeguard stands, not one was in use. From their designated viewpoint, at the far end of the pool, there is no possible way that the University Center lifeguards could see the entire pool, and despite the fact that a coach or an instructor may be down on the other side, it is no excuse for not having an on-duty lifeguard as an extra set of eyes.

In addition, I do not see why the university would not provide for a lifeguard during a class offered at the UC pool. ESS 124, which is the technical name for SCUBA, is given on Tuesday or Thursday from 7:50-10:25 p.m. Once the pool closes at 8 p.m. there is no longer a lifeguard left on duty. This seems okay to students because they are reassured by the fact that the scuba instructor is also a certified lifeguard. If the instructor stayed out of the pool all night, this would be a justifiable substitution for a lifeguard. But this is not the case and the instructor is under the water, instead of out of it.

Liability is the first word that comes to mind, and if I was the one in charge there is no way I would leave the school subject to that kind of legal danger. It seems trivial at first. I mean, students just go to the pool to socialize and tan, but there are many other activities that go on at the pool everyday.

Proper rotation of lifeguards, utilization of lifeguard stands, elimination of distractions, and proper weighing of job duties is needed at the UC pool. Until that time, the school should be extremely wary of what legal liabilities come along with improper managing of a pool.

Denise Kolb is a sophomore majoring in criminology.

April 16, 2002

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Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.