UNION COUNTY — In response to last week’s fatality at the Union County YMCA swimming pool, additional safety precautions will be in place when the pool reopens today.
After seven-year-old Miracle Smith tragically drowned at the YMCA last Wednesday, South Carolina DHEC came to check operations, equipment and water sanitation the next day. Union County YMCA Director Scott Sandor also said a SLED investigation showed the facility’s operating standards were met and exceeded. Although the pool was immediately cleared for reopening, Union County YMCA staff decided to wait in order to prepare themselves and regroup after the traumatic event.
“What we had in place was sufficient, but in response to this tragedy, we’re adding more safety precautions,” said Union County YMCA Director Scott Sandor. “Our focus is on moving forward and being as safe as we can.”
Sandor said a major concern for him has been in regard to young staff members who were present during last week’s tragedy, and he said they also need prayers.
The YMCA pool will reopen for public swim at 10 a.m. today (Thursday, July 30), and as it reopens, several local pastors will have community prayer for the family of Miracle Smith and the community.
“We — the YMCA and the community — need community support, and we need the Lord’s blessing that we are able to maintain a safe environment,” Sandor said.
Some of the added safety precautions will include the pool being closed for 10 minutes at the top of each hour of preparation. This will be from five minutes to the hour until five minutes after the hour. The YMCA will also use the “test, mark, protect” system for enhanced pool safety:
All participants under the age of 14 will be required to pass a swim test in order to use the entire pool area. The swim test will consist of swimming the length of the pool (25 yards) without touching the bottom of the pool and maintaining at least a 45-degree angle; treading water for 30 seconds while keeping ears and face above water; and plunging into water above head level and easily returning to the surface.
Swimmers who pass the swim test will be given a bright yellow wristband to indicate they have passed the swim test. The YMCA will institute a tracking system, so swimmers do not have to repeatedly take the swim test.
Non-swimmers who do not meet height requirements must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest. Non-swimmers under the age of 10 must be within arm’s length of their responsible adult, and one adult can be responsible for no more than three children. Lastly, any participant who is deemed to be exhibiting unsafe swimming practices may be asked to perform a swim test at the lifeguard’s discretion. Failure to comply with any of the lifeguards’ instructions can result in revocation of pool privileges.
Sandor also said the YMCA will track the number of saves made in the future, as people are assisted to safety each year. Lifeguard training comes through the YMCA or the American Red Cross. Lifeguards’ level of CPR training (professional rescuer CPR) is more extensive than “layperson CPR” or “cardiac arrest CPR” but less than an EMT.
“If there is any positive to this, it’s that if we didn’t have any support from the community regarding safety measures, we will now,” Sandor said.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or [email protected]