Going Swimming with Kids
Berkeley Parents Network >
Advice about Playing >
Going Swimming with Kids
I swim laps at a public pool & sometimes see 2 very young kids
who seem to be attached to the lifeguards. Usually the same
kids, but the last time wondered if it was a different set. I've
always seen an older boy (max 6-7yr) & girl (4-5 max). Of course
lifeguards pay attention to them & they RUN around the pool area,
kicking balls and chasing, & go in & out of the office. I wrote
to the aquatics director, who sounded like he wanted to take care
of the problem. But the ''resolution'' was that he determined that
the kids didn't belong to the lifeguards, but to a patron who was
swimming laps, and so he told his staff that the kids have to sit
at the picnic table. I thought about it & still can't think of a
way that it's ok, either from a parent's or city resident's
perspective. The kids are there for minimum an hour (I'm in the
pool longer than most others & theyre there before & after me). I
can't imagine a little kid can sit still, unsupervised, for that
length of time & I can't imagine that a lifeguard won't have to
deal with them (e.g., the little one needs to pee, girl goes into
the men’s bathroom, they ''forget'' to stay at the table, or they
fight). And though an emergency is unlikely, I can't think of a
good outcome--including lawsuits, which residents would
ultimately pay for. There is NO POSTED POLICY about kids, other
than for free swimming: 7 & under must be w/ responsible person
13 or older (and this violates that). I'd love to bring my kids
to the pool for free babysitting too, but it doesn't make sense
to me, and I can't imagine anyone doing it w/o knowing the
lifeguards. The aquatics director was offended that I questioned
the wisdom/safety of allowing kids at the pool unsupervised. I
think if the kids are really ok unsupervised, then they could
either be on the playground right outside the pool, or if they
really are capable of sitting quietly for an hour unsupervised,
they’d also be ok right outside the pool fence in view of the
pool. The director took personal offense at these ideas & was
hostile to my concerns. I’m thinking about safety/liability, both
for kids &swimmers (who the lifeguards are hired to protect).
Also, it seems discriminatory if only these kids are allowed in
pool area while the parent swims. It’s not like I’d want to do it
(not safe), but if we’re offering that service, I think we should
offer it to everybody. Clearly. And make the rules clear. (And
who enforces?) I love kids & am very familiar w/ challenges of
balancing kids w/ exercise for mom&dad. So give me your opinion:
Am I overreacting? Or should I refer this to the city attorney?
Let it go. You've told the pool supervisor and he's come up with
what he believes is a reasonable solution. Who knows what that
other parents' life situation is -- you seem to be assuming that
it is a two parent family. Better the kids hang out by the
picnic table, than outside the gate, where anyone could wander
off with them. Be glad you have someone to take care of your
children when you swim, and leave this family be.
a lap swimmer
You asked at the end of your post if you were over reacting. I'd
have to say, yes. Frankly, you sound a bit jealous, even though
you'd never consider leaving your kids unattended while you swim.
While I agree it sound like someone is getting a perk (not you),
I can't see how it is affecting you, or why it is any of your
business. The kids don't jump into the lane you're doing laps
in, and it doesn't sound like you're going to need the assistance
of the lifeguard, so what would it hurt to ''live and let live''?
Just a thought.
live and let live
I agree, the situation with the kids seems fraught with
potential liability problems. You've already tried reasoning
with the aqauatics director; I'd write to the city atty.
I've found that there are some parents who are very
safety-conscious to the point of being overprotective and
possibly stifling their children's development, and then there
are other parents who are so nonchalant about safety as to maybe
endanger their children's lives, and of course there is a huge
spectrum of parents in between. The latter type bothers me if
the parents are not thinking about their actions or lack thereof,
but I know lots of people who believe in the Continuum Concept
(aka TCC--look up the book by Jean Liedloff) and as a result feel
that their children should be trusted to take care of themselves
to the extent possible and any overly protective parenting
behavior would be to the kids' detriment. At one time I was a
worry-wart parent and as a result of discussions with friends who
raise their children according to TCC I have become much more
laissez-faire with my kids and I think they are much happier as a
Anyway, I guess my point is, if it bothers you this much, why not
talk to the parent? Their answer might surprise you, or they may
just be open to your suggestions. I have just as much trouble
with confrontation as the next person (probably more) but I just
have to think what I would want if it were me--to have a fellow
parent come up to me and question my parenting style, or have the
city attorney do so (and possibly call CPS or some other awful
thing that can happen when the government gets involved)?
MYOB I'm a lap swimmer in public pools also, so I speak from
many years of pool experience. The presence of the kids isn't
interfering with your ability to swim and you don't know what
the situation really is. It's none of your business. The
aquatic director has been informed. Stop obsessing about it
and focus on your swimming. Check out Pacific Masters swimming
website for new workouts to break up your routine and get your
focus on the workout instead of these kids. (and no, these
aren't my kids)
OK, this parent is taking advantage of the situation. You (and most of us) have better
manners than that. I don't think people are in harm's way, as most folks who show up
for lap swim time at a pool are pretty good swimmers. Yes, it's annoying. It's ok to
mention it to management, but call the city attorney? That is a bit much! It's not
healthy to focus so much energy on someone else's cluelessness. And, I would hope
the city attorney has more pressing issues to deal with than this!
In my opinion, you should alert the city attorney. I
completely agree with you. I wouldn't consider the free
babysiting or the special treatment the parents are getting
from the pool staff an issue, but I agree that it would be
horrible is there was an accident and someone needed the
lifeguard's help, but the lifeguard misses it because s/he is
distracted babysitting instead. I know that if my children
were using the pool, I would not only want the lifeguard's
undivided attention to the pool, I would expect it. I would
probably not allow my children to use the pool if I knew there
was no lifeguard on duty, so the fact that they have a
lifeguard who is doing double duty is misleading to the pool
users and a liability.
Yes, you're over-reacting. Let it go. They're not your kids.
Based on your post, they don't appear to be harming you or your
kids. I see parenting that I don't agree with in a variety of
settings. But, at the end of the day, it's not really any of my
business. Forgive my bluntness, but I have to wonder why you are
fixated on this issue. Let it go and worry about parenting and
supervising your own kids as you see fit.
I'm the original poster, and I'd like to clarify, based on the
''MYOB'' responses. I did not pass any judgment on the parenting style or
choices of those who choose to leave their kids unsupervised at a
pool. I did not make any assumptions about whether this was a
one- or two-parent family, and I didn't even consider that
relevant. (For the record, I have seen 2 parents both swimming at
the same time when the kids are unsupervised.) I wasn't trying to
get the city attorney or CPS after the parent. I thought the city
atty might make a suggestion to the aquatics director. I am most
concerned, as I said, about the safety of the kids, and the
safety of the other swimmers, and the liability of the city. My
concern for myself was only as a city resident who would be among
those who'd pay for that liability, and I was wondering if I
should take some action--more in the sense that I see an accident
waiting to happen and I have an opportunity to prevent it. I'm
not asking for ways to spend my time, and I'm not asking for help
with my focus. My concern was that the aquatics director is
leaving those kids and city residents vulnerable to a serious
accident. I was secondarily concerned about the appearance of
favorable treatment. And no, I'm not jealous. I wouldn't leave my
kids there. But other parents may want to leave their kids w/ the
lifeguards, and it's unclear at what point the lifeguards say no.
2 kids? 14 kids? Kids who have to be reminded to sit still?
I do appreciate the straightforward, nonjudgemental responses on
both sides of the question, which is what I was looking for and
what this list is so great for. I was asking a question. There
is a huge difference between asking a question and ''obsessing''
about it. We don't need to mindlessly throw out negative
judgements of people who post questions. And those thoughtless
responses to my question were mild compared to the nastiness I've
seen in response to some other questions. Some of them make me
embarrassed to be part of this list, and I feel so sorry for the
person who posted the question.
Please be thoughtful in your responses, and consider how you and
the other person would feel if you were saying those things
face-to-face, possibly to your neighbor or colleague. Is it
necessary to be so nasty? It is a little ironic that some of the
flippant ''MYOB'' responses seem to relish digging into other
people's business. It's enough to say ''I wouldn't worry about
it'' w/o imagining some negative motivation of the poster.
Many thanks to the thoughtful folks.
Our regular babysitter recently suffered the tragedy of her 14
year old son drowning at Roberts Regional Park during
a ''supervised'' field trip by his Oakland public school. It
seems to have been an incident of bullying gone horribly over
Pools are inherently dangerous places, and effective adult
supervision, on multiple levels is required. My kids are good
swimmers, but I always am there keeping an eye out, if not
actually in the water.
Having been close to a family that has suffered this kind of
tragedy, I would urge everyone to err on the side of caution.
this page was last updated: Nov 18, 2008
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network