Support your local swimming beach … and follow their new rules

It’s been two weeks since six-year-old Wyatt Hanna drowned at The Beach in Cloquet’s Pinehurst Park, and almost a week since the sand-bottomed swimming pond reopened.
It was a tragic accident, and my heart goes out to his family and friends. As a parent to young ones myself, I can’t imagine being in their shoes.
As a former lifeguard, however, I am frustrated by suggestions that the drowning is somehow the fault of the lifeguards. In the world we wish we lived in, they would have seen him sooner and that little boy would be with us today. Still, as a lifeguard watching over a mass of people in a swimming pool, unless a child is struggling in the water, they might not draw your attention.
No one knows how this little boy drowned in three feet of water. Was he holding his breath under water and something went wrong? Did he get kneed in the head by an unaware child, who moved on to the next fun thing, not thinking twice about what his or her knee just encountered?
There are no cameras at the Beach, so odds are quite good we’ll never know.
In the meantime, attendance is down dramatically at the city swimming facility, despite consistently hot and humid weather. According to my 11-year-old daughter, her friends aren’t coming back for a couple different reasons.
+ Some of them are scared.
+ New rules implemented at the pool are much more restrictive, which means that many of the kids who were going to The Beach alone, without supervision, aren’t being allowed in anymore.
According to the Cloquet Community Education website, Beach rules require the following:
+ Children six years old and younger need to be supervised by an adult who is in the water with them.
+ Children younger than 12 need to be accompanied by an adult – or childcare provider who is at least 16 years old – unless they have passed the level 4 swim lessons and can show proof with a card.
+ Children 12 years old and older can come alone.
+ A babysitter/childcare provider must be at least 16 years old to supervise youth under age 12.
I don’t know if they wrote up new guidelines for childcare groups who come to the pool, but as a mother of young ones and a former lifeguard, I would suggest an adult-to-child ratio of 4:1. That’s just me talking though.
As a Cloquet resident, I don’t want is a pond that closes because of lack of attendance. They already close at 2 p.m. if there are fewer than 15 swimmers at the pool, which was the case this Monday.
What Cloquet families can do is show some support for this unique facility, that we fought so hard to get. It’s still one of the safest places to go swimming, and the water is great.
See you at The Beach?

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3 Responses to Support your local swimming beach … and follow their new rules

  1. Judy says:

    what a wonderful artical ! you have said in words what I have felt all along. i do believe that the pool is safe and what happened, a tragic accident.
    talk with you soon

  2. Mother of Lifeguard says:

    Even among the community the lifeguards have been touched with comments when the individuals find out that they work at the Beach and asked whether they were there that “day” and whether its true he was wearing a lifejacket like everyone is saying. It seems some do not think beyond themselves and how it could have affected their lives from that day forward. These amazing lifeguards did everything in their power that day and more. With the knowledge they gleaned they have become even more positive and content in knowing they can do their jobs when necessary. One rule of thumb I feel in this community is to give them a pat on their backs and thank them instead of ridicule and reprimand. It is very sad to hear that the pool has been so quiet and their hours of watching the children and adults have fun has been spent looking at calm water and quiet breezes through the trees. As a mother of one awesome lifeguard—-I am proud to say I would put my life in their hands anyday! You GO!!

  3. Pauline Stickney (nee Helge) says:

    How I wish we had had that pool there at Pinehurst when we were kids. We were warned never to swim in the pond and had to be driven to Big Lake for any swimming we wanted to do. The Red Cross provided two weeks of lessons each summer for us, though, and we thought that was wonderful. School buses drove us kids to Big Lake at the Carey Resort. What fun we had and the instructors were very good.

    I’d encourage families to use this facility and abide by the new rules. They seem well thought out to me.

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