Pool Manager Balances Health And Safety

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Swimming is a natural and inexpensive way to have summer fun, and is also a healthy form of relaxation and exercise. The Warsaw Municipal Pool is a popular place to swim and cool off during the summer heat, and its staff members work many hours behind the scenes to ensure the health of visitors.
Pool Manager, Austin McCall, supervises and trains 17 life guards at the pool and makes sure they are aware of heat related illnesses, are well supplied and ready to roll when swimmers enter the area. He also performs pool maintenance to keep the water clean and disease free.
“My day starts at 7 AM when I check chemicals at the pool,” said McCall. Then I make rounds at the Community Building, returning to the pool at 11:30 to check chemicals again and make sure that the bathrooms are clean. I talk to lifeguards before the pool opens and help prepare them for their responsibilities. Every Friday from 10 to 11:45 AM, we have lifeguard boot camp when they do conditioning, learn what we need to improve on, and go into water skills training and CPR.”
The alluring, sparkling blue waters of the pool don’t occur naturally. McCall said that maintenance of the pool is an all day, every day procedure, which must be kept up to ensure the beauty, cleanliness and safety of the water. One of the most important responsibilities is backwashing where the water that falls into drains is filtered in the pump house.  Clean water goes into a separate tank and is returned to the pool. If this is not done regularly, the pool chemicals will become unbalanced.
Chemicals in the pool are checked at the top of each hour beginning at 12 PM to make sure of a safe balance. A pH level (acid) is maintained at about pH 7.5 ph. If it goes below pH 7 the water is acid and can cause burning of the nose and eyes. Low pH levels in a pool can be caused by rainwater and other foreign particles getting into the water. A pH 7.4 is optimum since this is the same as the pH in human eyes and mucous membranes. 
Chlorine is put into the water to kill bacteria and algae. Levels are maintained between 1.0 and 3.0.  When it gets as high as 3.5, swimmers can get skin rashes.
“Chlorine is the most difficult to keep balanced because it varies depending on how many people are in the pool, the amount of sun, the use of sunscreen, and the fact that some children urinate in the pool,” said McCall. “Cyanuric acid is used as a stabilizer for chlorine.”
McCall said the pool is vacuumed on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for a basic cleaning.  However, deep cleaning is carried out on Sundays. He said he has been told by a Red Cross training representative that the Warsaw Municipal Pool is the safest and cleanest in its rural area.
The Center for Disease Control website has a page devoted to healthy water in swimming pools which offers a few simple steps that aquatic managers and staff can use as a guide to assure the health of pool visitors. Some of the steps include operator and chemical handling training, enforcing cleanliness and safety of restrooms, showers, and diaper changing areas, enforcing bather load limits, instituting a preventative maintenance program to replace equipment or parts before they fail, providing disinfection guidelines for fecal accidents and body fluid spills, and educating pool users and parents about recreational water illnesses and appropriate pool use (i.e., no swimming when ill with diarrhea.)
McCall is on duty Monday through Friday, and is on call on weekends. He is a certified Life Guard Instructor, has had management training and is certified in quite a few other pool related areas. One of the requirements of his employment was to swim 600 meters.
Pool hours are 12 to 7 PM Monday through Saturday, and 12 to 5 PM on Sundays and holidays. The last day the pool is open during the week is August 13, because students begin the new school year on August 14.  However, the pool will be open on weekends until Labor Day. The pool is located at 929 W. Jackson and pool staff can be contacted at 660-428-2199. Check the pool’s Facebook page for closings due to inclement weather.