By Hollay Shayegi
As a lifeguard, there’s a certain “calm before the storm feeling” walking onto the pool deck before opening up for recreational swim for the day. No laughing children, no splashes from the mushroom at Arroyo Pool or the Splash Pad at Manor Pool. The water is quiet.
A lifeguard buddy walks in and there’s a scramble to get the best spot in the lifeguard rotation. Out go a tube and an air horn, the lap swim signs and an umbrella. That umbrella is going to be a lifesaver with the predicted 105-degree temperatures.
Next up is a thick layer of sunscreen. I don’t need to have elephant skin by the time I’m 40. Finally, time to get some ice and water, and maybe see if the snack bar attendant will throw in a little lemonade for taste.
The city of Davis spring and summer recreational swim hours are:
Manor Pool, 1525 Tulip Lane, 530-758-2000
Spring hours: May 27-June 13, 4-6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Summer hours: June 14-Aug. 17 (including Friday, July 4), 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Sundays, plus 7:15-9 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays
Arroyo Pool, 2000 Shasta Drive, 530-297-5477
Spring hours: May 31-June 8, 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Summer hours: June 14-Aug. 17 (including Friday, July 4), 1-5 p.m. Mondays through Sundays, plus 7:15-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays
By the time 1 o’clock rolls around, the water features are on and camp kids are chanting for the sacrifice of a counselor. The brief moment of peace has passed. The kids start pouring in, practically falling over each other to get out onto the deck, but doing their best to make it seem like they’re still walking. We know better. That little half skipping trot toes the line between letting them go and needing to shout “walk please!”
After 15 minutes has passed, it’s time to rotate stands. A toddler finally sneaks toward the deeper end of the pool. I motion to the guard in the water to head that direction and the toddler is ushered back toward his mom. We’ll need to keep an eye on him. He’s the type of child who will make an all-out sprint toward the pool and has no fear as he launches himself into the water.
The day continues without too much hullabaloo. A reach-in rescue and a couple of stubbed toes round out the excitement for the day (unless you count the camps’ splash contest). Toward the end of Rec Swim, a family of regulars comes in to enjoy free time together. Their swim passes allow them to come and go freely without needing to be concerned with getting their money’s worth every day. They lounge by the pool like always, greeted by each lifeguard and the management like old friends.
As it reaches 5 o’clock, all of the kids are dragged out of the pool by their parents and everything is taken down and rearranged for swim lessons. The family of regulars settle in for the intermission since the kids all take lessons. It’s crazy — five years ago I had the oldest in a parent-tot class and now she’s swimming laps! Those of us who have been around for a while have seen families grow and reach milestones, and it’s a rewarding feeling.
Lessons begin at 5:15 p.m. on the dot and everyone goes their separate ways. This particular half-hour I’m teaching a beginning preschool class and am doing my best to coax a 4-year-old into putting his face into the water. As a group, we start slow, moving from ankles deep to about hip height for the kids.
I’m crawling around on all fours making monkey noises to loosen up the more hesitant participants, making little splashes here and there to get them comfortable gradually. Five minutes before the end of the lesson, the mushroom is turned on for play time and there’s either panic or elation in everyone’s eyes. It’s one of those things that you either hate or love as a child and the reactions it spurs are absolutely priceless.
After two more lessons, it’s time to close shop for the day. The mushroom is turned off, teaching tools and kickboards are put away. In go the umbrellas, air horns and rescue tubes. The manager gives a brief overview of the day and staff heads out. All of the kids are gone, the deck is cleared and the water is quiet again … until tomorrow.
— Hollay Shayegi is the coordinator of the city of Davis aquatics program. For more information about the aquatics program, visit http://www.cityofdavis.org