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POLL: Do You Agree With Ban on "Swimmies" at Cedar Street Pool?

Majority of West Caldwell Council okay with new pool rule.

The majority of the West Caldwell Council said it agreed with a new pool rule banning "swimmies" at at Tuesday night's meeting.

The new rule prohibiting flotation devices was implemented this season by the pool manager citing safety concerns.

While swimmies have never been allowed at the township's other pool facility, , they have been permitted at Cedar Street's shallow children's pool until this year.

"We polled experts," said Councilman Dominick Aiello, Chairperson for the Pool Utility. "If a lot of people are in the pool, the swimmies can come off or deflate.  With so many people in the pool, it becomes difficult for lifeguards to see a child in danger," Aiello explained.

"If the child can't swim, the parent should be there," Aiello added.

Swimmies were banned because some parents have reportedly left their children in the pool unsupervised when using the flotation devices.

"It gives a false sense of security," said Councilman Steve Wolsky, adding that he would be in favor of United States Coast Guard approved flotation devices, not "dime store" swimmies. He said he is also in favor of a rule mandating parents be with children of a certain age at all times while in the pool. 

Councilman Thomas O'Hern disagreed with the Council's recommendation. 

"I am not a parent to leave my child," O'Hern stated, but with three young children, he said it is difficult for him to hold all of them when swimming in the pool.

Council President Stan Hladik, a father of five children, sympathized with O'Hern's concerns, but agreed with the Pool Committee's recommendation for safety reasons, as did Councilmen Richard Otterbein and Joseph Cecere. 

The Pool Committee this year also raised the minimum age for allowing a child to attend the pool without adult supervision from 10 to 11.

Aiello explained the Pool Committee surveyed other surrounding community pools and learned the minimum age ranges from 12 to 14.

"Our goal is to have it at age 12," Aiello said.

To grandfather in children who were allowed to attend the pool last year when they were 10, the age was raised to 11 for this season and will be raised to 12 next season.

One accommodation the Pool Committee did agree to was to change the date when children reach age 11 from June 1 to October 1 to match the school's grade cut-off. This recommendation came from West Caldwell resident  who pointed out that his daughter, who could not stay at the pool unattended last year while some of her older classmates could, would now be banned from this privilege for another two years. 

"This is a reasonable request," Aiello said.

WestCaldwellCitizen32 June 21, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Talk about a tone deaf Town Council....I bet the final poll reveals an overwhelming support of the old policy. There was no need to change. Even so, if they were going to change, they should have notified people in the mailing packet that was sent home in March. To show up Mem Day w/e and be told then. Poor planning, or actually, no planning at all.
Kris June 21, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Too many times parents go off chatting with friends while their children are left "floating" around with swimmies. Constantly I hear other parents complain another parent just left their kid. And now that kid is splashing or whatever. The point is, is watch your children. Swim with them, sit with them. Don't bring them if you can't handle it alone! Swimmies are a false sense of security.
Kean09 June 21, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Agreed Kris. They are a false sense of security. You need to have eyes on your children at all times around water. The pool staff has alot of responsibilty watching those who can swim, accidents happen all the time. Take the swimmies off and get in the pool, spend some quality time with your children teach them to swim.. It's never to young to learn...
Frank P June 21, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Inflatable swimmies should not be allowed in the pool, but quality USCG devices should. If a parent leaves their floatation wearing child unattended in the pool, they should have their membership revoked. I have two young boys...one can swim, one can't (he's 3). It is much safer to have my younger son in a swim device rather then clinging to me as my 5 yr old jumps to me from the side of the pool...or needs me to help him in any way. I do not leave them alone, I have my eyes on them constantly....I am not watching from the side of the pool, I am in the pool....I AM spending quality time with them. Just because someone supports the use of a floatation device does not mean they ignore their kids or leave their well being in the hands of teenage life guards. There's no way I can be convinced that it is safer to have kids without flotation devices than to have them wearing them.
Melon head June 22, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Well I really think its unfair to people who use the swimmies and still watch their children.. Even though my kids have swimmies on I always watch them. When they want to go in the big pool I put them on to help me hold both of them up since they can't swim! It's not fair to punish people who still watch there kids with them on
Iwonder June 22, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Be parents and watch you most valuable posessions, your children while they swim. I am 100% certain that if parents were watching their children while they had the swimmies on there would be no issue. I do agree if the PARENTS ARE PRESENT kids should be able to wear swimmies. Contrary to what some parents believe the Lifeguards are NOT BABYSITTERS. Funny thing ask yourself this-Would you leave your wallets or pocketbooks unattended? I'm sure councilman O'Hern will change his mind as the poll results unfold. So sad...So sad
Kerry G June 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I hope our council will reconsider this decision. Having grown up in Caldwell, went away to college and now returned to raise my own family, I am so disappointed that this is what our town has turned into... we are "banning" swimmies bc of people leaving their children that cannot swim unattended in the pool? Obviously, if a child needs swimmies his parent should be present! If there are problems with parents leaving their kids unattended in the pool they should be dealt with immediately at the pool. Other parents should make a guard aware if they see this. The majority should not have to suffer for the few that are negligent. Once we are covered in sun tan lotion it is very slippery to hold onto children in the water. It is much safer for my toodler boys to have a floatation device on when I am holding them in the pool. This should have been shared in the membership information and I hope they are willing to reimburse members.
Barbara June 22, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I think that the point most are trying to make is that the Township should have made this decision before anyone could purchase pool badges for the season (as I have heard from many parents that they would have chosen to NOT join the pool as a result of this decision). I speak as a parent who was always in the pool with my children and never left them unattended. However, when you have multiple young children swimming at a time, it's nearly impossible to hold onto them all in the pool at the same time. I would hope that the Township would refund any parent the cost of the badges if they chose not to stay a member of the pool.
On the Mark June 24, 2012 at 03:43 PM
All unattended children under the age of 12, should be required to wear a USCG approved PFD unless they can validate that they can pass a swim test and survival float. Children's pool passes should indicate having passed this swim test. Wearing a USCG approved PFD will enable the lifeguards to easily identify the non-swimmers in the pool. The boy scouts have used such a program at their summer camps and jamborees for decades without incident. They don't allow anything but USCG approved PFDs in their programs, why would a municipal pool utility be any different. Place the burden on the parents, not the life guards. The pool isn't intended to be a daycare facility with life guards serving as babysitters.
mom of 2 June 28, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Everyone should feel free to come and speak out at the next West Caldwell Town Council meeting...I believe it is on July 3. If you feel strongly about this, let them know it then.
mom of 2 June 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Well said! There is a petition circulating that says exactly this. Allow USCG approved devices...no one can claim they are a "false sense of security."
mom of 2 June 28, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Go to the council meeting and tell them this...They will not change any decisions if no one asks them to.
Jessica Wilson July 22, 2012 at 05:05 PM
A recent NYTimes article reported that experts agree that young children near pools are safest when wearing a flotation device AND are under the close supervision of an adult. The pool should allow floaties and require parents to stay their kids instead of leaving them alone to go socialize. I know several parents with more than one child who cannot enjoy the pool with their young children because they cannot hold both of them in their arms and have any fun. They are willing to stick close to their kids, but having floaties makes it easier to let all the kids play at the same time. Floaties make for safer swimming, but parents need to be required to be responsible--and the pool must enforce parents' role in this.
gregory l. mitchell September 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM
If a flotation device is to be used in the water on a young child "THAT CANNOT SWIM" it should be nothing less than an approved "Mae West" that is used in boating.Until the child has demonstrated that he can safely swim and he's in the water this makes the most sense-then with only close supervision.Respectfully,G.L.Mitchell


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