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Edgerton panel OKs pool safety upgrades

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
August 12, 2010
— Swimmers at the Edgerton's zero-depth swimming pool could see a safety upgrade next year. All they'll have to do is look down.

The Edgerton Parks and Recreation Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved adding a safety line to mark a deeper section.


The move came after Edgerton residents Mike and Kim Pritchard asked the committee last month to consider safety upgrades. The Pritchard's 4-year-old son, Hayden, was hospitalized June 19 after he nearly drowned in the pool.


Hayden had wandered off into deep water, his parents said.


After the family's request for upgrades, the committee asked Aquatic Director Anne Gohlke to review safety measures used at other zero-depth pools in the area, including facilities in Middleton, Fort Atkinson, Sun Prairie and Madison.


Zero-depth pools are extremely shallow at entry, and then gradually drop off to a maximum depth. Edgerton's pool has a maximum depth of 4 1/2 feet.


In a presentation to the committee Wednesday, Gohlke said she had surveyed area zero-depth pools and had taken note that some had two or even three depth markers in a variety of colors to mark depth changes.


Edgerton's zero-depth pool currently has just one stripe marking the depth of the pool at 2 1/2 feet, a safety measure Gohlke said meets state standards.


Gohlke recommended the city repaint the existing stripe black to make it more visible, and that the city put an additional red stripe to mark the deeper water that is isolated in a far corner of the pool.


The committee's approval of the new stripes Wednesday was advisory.


The city had already planned to drain and repaint the pool in October, and had an agreement with a contractor for the work. Changes to the agreement would have to be submitted to the contractor, and increased costs for painting could require approval from the city council, officials said.


The Pritchards had asked the city to consider installing a floating line at the deep corner of the pool to give young swimmers something to hold on to if they panic or become tired in deep water.


Gohlke said Wednesday she did not recommend float lines at the pool. She said in other local zero-depth pools, floating ropes separate "adult" deepwater racing lanes from more shallow recreational areas of the pool where youths typically congregate.


Edgerton's zero-depth pool has no deepwater lap areas.


Gohlke said the proposed float line's placement would be directly in front of a lifeguard station, creating an obstruction if the lifeguard needed get to another area of the pool.


"They'd have to navigate around a rope when they're jumping off a chair to make rescues," she said.


Edgerton Parks and Recreation Committee Chairman Brent Harry said he wanted the committee learn more about float line systems and whether they'd work at the city's zero-depth pool.


Other committee members and City Administrator Ramona Flanigan wondered if the lines would encourage pool users to go into deep water.


"I don't want to put something in there that's going to be more of a risk," Harry said.


Other recommendations by Gohlke that the committee approved Wednesday were the continued restriction of flotation devices at the pool, except in special cases, and the continued allowance of children older than 8 to use the pool without a parent or guardian.



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