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Pool opens for summer with focus on safety

Lifeguard Veronica Hernandez vigilantly observes a group of swimmers at the Brookings Municipal pool during open swimming on Tuesday.

Brookings Municipal Pool manager Jimmy Trudeau has a focus on safety and it shows. He has increased the amount of personalized swimming lessons available, began instituting special aquatic exercise programs, and improved the lifeguard-to-swimmer ratio in the short few years he has been manager at the pool.

“We prioritize swimming lessons and senior physical therapy here at the pool, because they save lives,” said Trudeau.

The pool now holds two sections of private, one-on-one swim lessons per day in addition to the standard lessons that will be held from 10 a.m. to noon daily. The advantage of the private lessons, according to the pool’s head lifeguard, George Kreger, is the attention the swimmer receives from a trained professional.

“It’s one-on-one instruction with a lifeguard that lasts 45 minutes. That’s 15 minutes longer than our standard lessons,” he said. “They get more instruction and tend to progress much faster because of it.”

Kreger said that, though the pool had only been opened for two days, the private swim lessons have been popular. 

“I’m nearly booked for the summer,” said Kreger. “We still have a few spaces available but they have been filling up fast.”

In addition to the private lessons being held at 3:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The pool will continue to hold standard swimming lessons for youths aged 3-months to 17-years with different stages and groupings depending on the swimmer’s skill. 

In addition to the various swimming lessons the pool provides, there are several fitness courses, to participate. Aquatic Zumba classes will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday beginning on June 17. A general entry or 10-swim pass will grant entry to the Zumba classes. Aquatic aerobics classes are also available and will run from 8 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday.

According to Trudeau, one of the more important aspects of the pool is the increased emphasis on safety. More lifeguards are now on duty at any given time to ensure the rules are followed and the pool is safe for every patron. Trudeau states the pool now holds a 15:1 swimmer-to-lifeguard ratio, a vast improvement from years past, when the ratio would reach 30:1 at times. 

“We have more eyes on the pool,” said Trudeau, who instituted a system among his staff that allows them to be flexible when the pool gets crowded. 

“Each lifeguard is assigned one of three sections. If one section isn’t as busy as other sections than those lifeguards can also keep an eye on the busier sections.” 

According to Trudeau, this allows his staff to work together to keep the pool safe and ensures a quick response in the event of an emergency.

The pool is currently in the spring schedule through June 15, with the Summer schedule, and all it’s activities, set to kick off on June 16. 

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