As the summer continues, and the construction is nearing completion, we are excited about all the action in the activity pool. The activity pool is where the Wibit obstacle course and climbing wall is located. These attractions will provide hours of fun for many families visiting the Ouray Hot Springs. As in years past, children 12 years and under will have to pass the deep water swim test to partake in these features. The swim test has been at the center of many good, bad, and ugly experiences for lifeguards, parents, and kids. It can be very challenging, however it is a vital piece to maintaining a safe swimming environment.

“What’s the Point?”

Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions we get asked about the swim test. I am always amazed at parents’ willingness to send their child, who cannot swim, to the deep section of the pool. Our main goal when administering a swim test is to assess whether or not a child possesses the basic swimming skills, and level of comfort to safely navigate deep water. As lifeguards, our number one job is prevention, and this includes not letting people who cannot swim into deep water. Unfortunately many children do not possess these basic swimming skills. The job of delivering the devastating news that they will not be able to play on the obstacle course falls upon the lifeguard group. No guard enjoys telling someone that they can’t play on the rock wall or obstacle course. Still, for some children, this is world ending news for 5 minutes until they find some other fun activity. However, parents are much less understanding, and are quick to express how you just ruined their entire vacation.

The bottom line is it all comes down to safety.

Swim tests are not always about delivering bad news. There are many times when children are unsure of their abilities, and are very intimidated by the swim test. When they do pass, it is a big achievement, and seeing that excitement is extremely rewarding. Many of the children sport their green wristbands like a badge of honor, and brag about hold old they were when they passed the test. It also provides the opportunity to give pointers which can improve a child’s swimming ability. It is also fun to watch the competitive siblings who want to know who completed the test the fastest, or who had the better stroke. Again, it all comes down to safety. We want everyone to have fun when they come to the pool, but we will never compromise safety for fun.


Article Written By: Jeramy Harthan, Aquatics Coordinator