Built in 1938, the indoor pool at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is still going strong. “There is a lot of maintenance required to keep pools that have been around that long going,” said Catherine Ayers, the aquatics director at the university. “I just need to make sure the facility staff has the time they need to make sure everything is running.”
A larger part of that need is in keeping the pool clean. Ayers said two groups work on the indoor and outdoor pool at the university. Lifeguards handle daily tasks, like wiping down surfaces, keeping rust under control and putting equipment away at the end of the day. The second group is a four-person team from the facilities department, that handles vacuuming the pools twice a week, keeping the chemicals just right, etc.
Alecia Stegenga, the aquatics coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said university engineers and building service workers also help her lifeguards keep the pool clean. At night, the building service workers will clean the whole facility, mop the pool deck and wipe the glass. The university engineers check the pool at least three times a day to monitor the chemical levels, and utilize tools/products like Accu-Tab to keep levels correct.
Stegenga’s lifeguards on the other hand are responsible for tasks like organizing deck furniture, wiping down the stainless steel, picking up the guard office, etc. She has broken up their tasks into three shifts — opening, throughout the day and closing.
In terms of incentivizing her student staff to keep things clean, Stegenga has also divided the lifeguard staff into teams. Each individual can earn points for their team during the semester. For example, if Stegenga spots a lifeguard excelling at his or her cleaning task, she will give the lifeguard’s team points. At the end of the semester, those points might just add up to a pizza party.
At Missouri State University, there used to be cleaning attendants that came in at night to keep the facility squeaky clean. However, Louise Love, the assistant director of aquatics and risk management, noticed a shortage of pride growing in her lifeguards. “We started seeing some lacking in motivation, in general. I think just because they’re like, ‘Oh, the cleaning shift will get it later,’” she said. “If you have pride in your job, if you have pride in your facility, you’re going to do better all around.”
Now, Love explained her lifeguards have daily cleaning duties broken up by shift. They’ll scrub stainless steel and other surfaces with Highland Cleaning products, as well as spot vacuum and sweep the patio. For larger cleaning needs, Love said maintenance staff will work on the pool when it’s closed. Every two years, Missouri State University’s pool is shut down. For a week, Love will work with two full-time staff and about 10 student staff eight hours a day scrubbing the pool high and low.
Ultimately, it comes down to everyone playing their part in keeping the facility spotless. In fact, Stegena said don’t be afraid to have someone from outside come and look at the space. When Jeff Lloyd, the current associate director for facilities at the University of Illinois at Chicago started, Stegenga said he found some fixes she hadn’t noticed before.
If you remain proactive in keeping your pools clean, you won’t have to wait until something breaks. “It can be easy to take for granted that the pool is clean and that the chemicals are doing their job, but you just have to be careful on a daily basis and watch to make sure things are balanced and running well so that the machinery can do its job and keep all the patrons safe in the water,” added Ayers.