Public pool stresses the importance of summer swim safety

The gates at Beaumont's Magnolia Park public pool opened for the first time all year on Saturday. It's an exciting time for both swimmers and lifeguards, but pool manager Kirvis Fontenot knows they have a job to do.

"This is the place for everyone to have fun, but fun can turn into tragedy real quick," said Fontenot, talking about the dangers of swimming.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 Americans die everyday from unintentional drowning.

"That's why I don't leave my kids here, I'm here with them," said Samantha Britt, who was at the pool with her husband and 4 kids on Saturday.

Fontenot and his team of 7 lifeguards are there to make sure all the swimmers make it home safe and sound.

"You come here to swim," Fontenot said. "We're not coming to wrestle, we're not coming to dunk (each other)."

All the standard rules, like no running, diving, or horseplay, are strictly enforced. Then there's the weather to worry about.

"If I see a flash of lightning or hear thunder, we get everyone out of the pool," said Fontenot.
On top of all that, each swimmer wanting to swim in the deep end must pass a swim test every time they come out.

"Today is Saturday. They might've passed it today, but if they come back out tomorrow, when it comes to the deep end, they're going to have to take that same swim test," said Fontenot. "It proves that you can swim for a long period of time without getting tired."

Fontenot appreciates one thing more than anything else, parents like Britt who keep a close eye on their kids.

"I love it," he said. "Parents, no one's gonna watch your baby like you watch your baby."

The public pool at Alice Keith Park is scheduled to open on June 11th.


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