At this point during the COVID-19 outbreak, most rec centers are closed until further notice, including pools.
Because aquatics is hands-on and personal, training and staying up-to-date on recertification is an important concern. But if you can’t be in the pool, or even in your facility, how do you encourage staff to try and continue practicing and learning?
Wesley King, an aquatics industry consultant and owner of Wesley King Consulting, LLC – a business that provides consulting on aquatics safety, service and sustainability – recently led a roundtable call for aquatics professionals to discuss their concerns and challenges, and to see how he could help. One of his biggest takeaways was for leaders to encourage and continuously support the team.
“Don’t make it about certifications and in-services; make it about the team,” said King. “The most success I’ve ever had is when the team supports the team. That’s what’s missing right now, because you can’t get in front of the team.”
One of King’s suggestions for team bonding includes virtual team training and using technology to stay connected. This can look like asking staff to submit brief five-minute videos of practicing CPR with a towel or prop. Other ideas include opening up a challenge to see who can submit the most creative video and then provide an incentive, like sharing the video among the campus rec department, or providing gift cards if available. The overall goal is to encourage and engage staff, even when they can’t be face-to-face.
Another way to engage your aquatics staff during this time is to find out what they’re good at by sending out a small survey asking what they love to do outside of work. “We all know what our staff is good at when they’re working,” said King. “But how can I take what they love and find a way to capitalize on it in a supportive way so they feel engaged?”
One of those ways is to take that hobby, whether it be writing, drawing, videography, music, social media, etc. and assign them relevant tasks. This gives them the opportunity to showcase their strengths to the team, which makes them feel good, and if the whole team is involved, the whole team feels good.
Lastly, a way the whole team can contribute and support each other is by planning for the future together. One of the activities King does when meeting with aquatics groups is to bring in an empty cardboard box and fill it with water, obviously resulting in a mess. He then describes how it would be different with a tub – obviously it would hold the water, just like a pool.
Then he poses the question: What you would put in the pool if it couldn’t be water? “Would you put an art studio in there, a rock bank or a gym class?” he asked. “It guides people to think differently. Now we put water in it. How does what we came up with translate into something new?”
The idea is to get staff thinking about programming ideas for reopening. If you have this extra downtime, it’s a great way to give staff hope and to bond over brainstorming at a safe distance. Most of all, it keeps your team supported.
To find educational webinars, articles, and more to help you and your staff during the coronavirus pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Resource Page.