On Saturday evening my son and I attended a dive in movie at the Moore Aquatic Center. We've been a couple of times and I really like it. The lazy river has tracks along the bottom to go with the train theme and for whatever reason, I find it fun to put my feet on them and let the water push me over them. My son, a BIG Thomas the Tank Engine fan as a kid, loves it too. I'm getting off point but what I am trying to say, is that the water park is cute, clean and fun.
On Friday when my son ask me to attend the dive in movie, I was reluctant but remembered that when your kids ask you to do something with them, the answer should always be YES. So, of course, I went. It had been a sweltering day and though the sun was going down, I figured a nice dip in the pool would be refreshing.
The event was well organized and as a former Senior Program Director, I was taking it all in. I had hosted events of this kind before and I am always interested to see the attendance, the planning, and the lifeguards. I have to say I was impressed by all of them.
One thing that struck me was the number of families that seemed to not fully understand the dangers of the water, the dangers of the event and the dangers of the PUDDLE JUMPER. I have 30+ years of aquatic experience and so expecting them to get it, might be a little unreasonable. So, let me explain. A dive in movie is a unique program that is meant to provide a different form of entertainment and bring in additional revenue. Parents love these unique programs as they are inexpensive, local and fun. So, many times it is your special event that packs in the people. It is also the special event that has the most risk.
Watching a movie while in the pool is fun but has a good number of things to be aware of. First, watching a movie requires a certain level of darkness so that you are able to see the picture, thus reducing the easy ability to see. Second, swimmers watching the movie in tubes (even clear tubes) creates blind spots (areas where the lifeguard cannot see). This occurs even if the lifeguard is seated in an elevated chair. Third, with a family full of little ones, it is hard to have touch supervision on every non swimming child. Therefore, many times parents put their child in flotation devices. Flotation isn't the best solution for children in a pool. Flotation should be reserved for open bodies of water. Flotation devices create a false sense of security and the child (most of the time) has no idea that they are only able to swim because of the flotation device they are wearing. Additionally, flotation devices (specifically the puddle jumper) holds the child in a vertical position (the drowning position). The puddle jumper prohibits the child from learning to swim correctly because it reinforces vertical position and muscle memory.
So, what is a family to do for entertainment? If I am being honest, I would recommend that families who have more than one non-swimming child, do not go to events like this. The best way to have your non-swimming child in the water is to hold them. Holding them prevents bad habits from forming and helps to get learn about their body in the water. I would reserve these kinds of events for families that have children who swim, and I would remind parents to watch their swimming children because of the inherent risks involved in this type of event.
One last thing... At the end of the evening, I spoke with the Aquatic Director. She happened to be my son's boss from a previous job. She has a ton of aquatic experience and had the event well organized and her staff very well trained. I (at least this summer) feel very confident recommending this pool to families who are looking to go to a water park.