At Wilson Aquatic Center last night the lifeguards stopped the swimmers and told everyone they had to remove any personal items and water bottles immediately from the pool deck, per a Dept of Health regulation. Is this new? Or maybe just an old policy that is newly enforced? The lifeguard wasn't able to explain it to me last night, he just said there is a water fountain for swimmers to use if they need water.
I'm just curious about this policy, so I tried to call the DC DOH and DC DPR. I was transferred to a few different people at both offices but never managed to actually get a person on the line to explain this. Anyone have any insight?
No helpful info from making a phone call, transferred endlessly ... surprise. Ridiculous!
I recall when they first opened Wilson pool a few years ago they banned all drinks except water (to keep the facility clean I guess, instead of spilled red Gatorade). Maybe they are trying to do that again, though I can't see how they can just ban all bottles and expect everyone to run to the water fountain every 5 minutes.
Wait, people don't drink pool water? But it's so... clean smelling. Yum
-Andy Sovonick of Gaithersburg
No waterbottle hand off on a triathlon swim so why train with water at the pool? just kidding, seriously, one of the dumbest things I've ever heard in 25 years of competitive swimming.
I've emailed the pool managers at Wilson to get an official answer about it. If I (or any of the masters coaches) hear back, we'll post the answer here!
Jason Brez talked to the pool manager at Wilson last night. On Sunday an inspector from the DOH came to the pool and said having water bottles and bags on deck was a violation of health code. What we're trying to find out now is what specific regulation he was citing. Jason can provide more information!
I hope this is just an incorrect application of the law or a gross misunderstanding of it (meaning it will go away). Otherwise, they should just have us sign a waiver that we understand the health risks of drinking from our own water bottles so we can get on with life. Are they going to ban water bottles for high school swim meets too?
I did a google search with the following words (are "water bottles" permitted near swimming pools) and there is an interesting variety of rules regarding water bottles. This one was one to note:
"Plastic water bottles will be allowed on the pool deck but must remain a minimum of four feet from the perimeter of the pool. Exception: Adult parties and special events as authorized by the board. "
I found the DOH checklist for inspecting swimming pools:
Of note on the checklist: "Food and beverage: excluded from deck and pool area."
The Wilson pool manager gave me the name of the health inspector so I called the DOH again to get some clarification on the water bottle issue. I left a voicemail for the inspector (Rodney Taylor) and if I do manage to speak with him I'll let you know what he says. Hopefully it's an issue of water being allowed but having to be four feet from the pool (like 04swiger googled) or something like that!
I saw that this morning and figured it was another of the arbitrary rules/processes that Wilson pool periodically enacts.
Naturally, the link for 'Swimming Pools and Spas' on the Regulations page actually navigates to 'Food Safety Hygiene Inspection Regulations Food Processing Operations Code'. So there's that.
But I was undeterred. Upon speaking with DoH, I got this information, http://dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/RuleHome.aspx?RuleNumber=25-C6403. Applicable regulations are under 6403.1 (a) "No food, drink, glass or animals in the pool area" and 6403.4 (f) where "swimming pool...operators...shall enforce the following rules including...Prohibiting the consumption of food or beverages in areas other than the specifically designated eating areas that are separated from the swimming pool."
Doesn't really change the situation but at least we know what to cite in the next Wilson Pool Petition.
I'm glad you found the rules they applied to this situation.
And with that petition, I agree that enjoying a rack of ribs and a cocktail poolside is not appropriate. However, basic hydration should be exempt. For that matter, having a water fountain in the same room as the pool would qualify as consuming a beverage "in the pool area."
While I don't have any of this research, I think a petition should cite scientific papers that explain why continuous hydration is necessary in sports -- every few minutes. The effects of hydration are masked in an aquatic environment, so the risks of nausea and feeling faint could cause an undue burden on life guard staff, putting others at risk when the cause is preventable if related to hydration. The one or two water fountains on site is insufficient to hydrate an entire pool of swimmers, say, every 5 minutes or so, and therefore the pool is inadequate to maintain the health and safety of every swimmer if personal water bottles are banned. Throw in a few diabetics who may require some form of sugar in their drink to maintain blood levels during exertion and Wilson would have to permit some bottles for medical reasons -- are they going to verify, and approve each bottle at an additional administrative cost? No.
This rule was made effective on December 26, 2008 according to that link. Where has enforcement been since then? And where have all the reports of sickness traced back to Wilson's Pool deck been in the news?
haha... now I have an image in my head of some donkey sitting poolside in a beach chair, gnawing on a rack of ribs, washing it down with a fruity drink (complete with paper umbrella).
I was there and, though I didn't have any gear on deck, I sent an email directly to the manager of the Wilson Aquatic Center regarding this incident.
We recently exchanged emails regarding the showers not working due to lack of water pressure. This obviously poses a much greater health risk than water bottles poolside.
I'll post his reply but my guess is that this was simply a poor judgment call by the guards on deck and likely won't happen again.
Metro even lets you have a water bottle - wonder how Metro's regs read - if there is similar wording, but Metro interprets water bottles as permitted?
Your problems are nothing. Try to work out at the DPR Rumsey pool by Eastern Market. The weekly closings due to lightening dangers was upped this week. They closed the facility for several days early this week as the heating element went out, allowing the water to drop below that fail safe temp of 78 degrees.
Apparently there is a health risk to all when that happens. What did we do before wetsuits?
Update from Rodney Taylor, DOH:
This rule of no food and water (including plastic bottles filled with water) has been on the books for a long time as part of the food code. It's up to all DC aquatic centers to enforce it, and it's a violation if they do not enforce it. They have water fountains on the deck for swimmers to get water.
He was nice on the phone and said he'd been getting a lot of emails about this. My favorite part of the conversation was when he said (and I'm paraphrasing his quote) "you never know what someone could bring in the water bottles, they could bring something in and dump it in the pool to intentionally make people sick."
So to recap: water bottles can make you sick and swimming in water less than 78 degrees is bad for your health, according to DC regulations.
Surely someone has an "in" with a member of the DC Council? We just need two words, "except water."
Hello everyone -
One of the strengths of the club is that we are 1300 strong. If there is a mounting desire to get a petition in order then this is something we should consider. You might re-call that we recently (2012) played a major role in getting the swimming ban lifted in the Potomac for special events in order to help make it easier for our friends who run the Nation's Triathlon to plan the event.
If this is the direction we want to go then I would be looking for someone to take the lead on the overall project, helping to write a canned letter/email that we can encourage our membership base to send. We would also need to determine the best entity to direct the petition towards...DC DOH, DC DPR, your local councilman, or the Mayors office.
President, DC Tri Club
As someone who nearly died from heatstroke last summer, I would be glad to write to DC Council or Mayor Gray about the important need to hydrate regularly during exercise. I am not a DC resident, but I plan to be a regular at the Hains Point morning swims this summer, provided I am allowed to use a water bottle while I'm there, and I'm not required to keep it the minimum of 4 feet away from the pool.
For whoever takes the lead on this, here are a couple sources to cite regarding hydration and swimming:
American College of Sports Medicine (specifically mention swimming): http://www.acsm.org/docs/brochures/selecting-and-effectively-using-hydration-for-fitness.pdf
Features an unfortunately quotable tidbit about a swimmer who died due to dehydration: http://www1.joelenoch.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Article-HydrationPDF.pdf
A paper on swimming hydration: http://www.movingthroughwater.com/Articles_files/Dehydration_2.pdf
I'll look for more, but I have actual work to do. Just heard about this and found the whole thing ludicrous.