Wednesday, July 07, 1999

Toss It In The Pool

Last week, my wife and daughter were enjoying an afternoon at the neighborhood pool when they heard from one of the other moms that some kid had thrown up in the water. They were both surprised to hear that the lifeguards had neither made an announcement nor closed the pool. All they did was go over with one of those skimming nets to clean up the mess. But no one was told to get out of the pool.

Granted, it was a very hot day, and the pool provided much needed relief.

Still, shouldn't the policy be that when anything solid is expelled from the body of anyone in the pool, you close it down -- even for a minimal amount of time...say, twenty minutes? -- and clean that sucker out?

You don't have to over-react and drain all the water as if it's the Baby-Ruth-in-the-pool scene in "Caddyshack." But how about a whistle and a heads-up to the other swimmers when some kid has hurled chunks?

At the very least, give the impression that you're doing something. Bring out a big tub of chlorine and dump some in. Act like you're testing the delicate pH balance of the water. Get one of those floating Valdez oil-spill containment rings set up around the spewage. Anything!

We're all aware that the pool isn't a hyper-clean environment to begin with. Every adult knows that unsettling feeling of swimming too close to a group of toddlers and suddenly sensing that the water in that area is a little warmer and it's time to reverse engines.

While on the subject of kids and pools, how about that decision last month by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission to recall dive sticks? Those are the weighted, brightly-colored plastic rods, about six inches long, that you throw into the pool and then dive in and retrieve. Endless hours of fun for kids of all ages.

Unfortunately, this government agency determined that dive sticks are too dangerous because -- out of 20 million sold -- six boys and girls have been hurt while playing with them. The kids apparently didn't throw the dive sticks far enough into the pool, and when they jumped in they were impaled -- in exactly the body parts you would least like to have impaled.

Yes, that's a terrible thing to have happen, but a total recall -- and ban -- of the product after there's been a problem with only six out of twenty million? That comes to .00003%!!! I'll bet more kids are hurt in horrific swim-noodle accidents each summer. Not to mention the number of youngsters tragically lost during Marco Polo games.

So what's the compromise between the lifeguard's lack of action and the government's overreaction? I sure hope it's not kids diving for tossed cookies.

One last swimming item. This week, a guy was found nude and dead in the killer whale tank at Sea World Orlando. There were no bite marks or bruises on his body, so it’s assumed that he drowned after jumping in for a swim with the big beasts. Which makes you wonder, what part of the name “killer whale” did he not understand?

Oh, wait a minute. Please don’t let this be some sexual thing. That would bring new meaning to the word “blowhole.” And maybe he thought it was a sperm whale. Ah, jeez.

Okay, now can we clear the pool?