School is out and so is the sun, which means more and more pools are opening to the public.
Entry to swim in Redmond won’t be so simple though, as anyone under the age of 16 will need parental permission.
The Cascades Swim Center in Redmond is implementing a program called Safe Swim Kids Redmond.
It’s a new way to keep track of guests after an uptick in vandalism and bullying at the pool.
“So we’ve had profanity painted on our walls,” said Jessica Rowan, the Aquatic Director for the Cascades Swim Center “We’ve had some of our mechanical equipment damaged.”
“There’s a lot of people who come through and somehow they find a way to peel the paint off the walls, especially in the locker rooms,” said Ed Payne a lifeguard at the Swim Center.
“I think there are a lot more children right now that may be utilizing services like this as childcare instead of as an adventure for the day,” Rowan said.
The influx of unsupervised children lead to a rise in bad behavior like graffiti, damaged equipment, bullying, fights, lifeguard harassment, and even soap dispensers emptied into the hot tub; which supervisors say costs nearly $500 to repair.
“I’ve done this for about 13 years and I feel like there has been a sharp increase over the past few years,” Rowan said about the bad behavior.
“Over the past 10 years, from what I’ve seen, it’s gone up,” Payne said.
Though the Swim Center says 10 to 15 kids are to blame for the damages, they’re now requiring parent-completed contact forms and behavior agreements for all pool-goers under the age of 16.
“It’s just a one-time form, so they don’t have to do it every time,” Rowan said.
“We can hold people accountable for anything that they do,” Payne said “Not saying we don’t already, but it kind of adds a level to that.”
Personal responsibility; something that has been harder to manage for a dwindling lifeguard staff.
“This is the youngest staff I’ve encountered,” Rowan said ‘We have a lot of 14-year-old applicants and they can’t guard because you have to be at least 15 to take the class.”
The hope is to keep staff less occupied with patrolling locker rooms and more time fostering fun and safety.
“It’s an environment where our primary function is to watch that water and keep people safe,” Rowan said.
You can fill out the form at the facility or online.