goodManners: Pool Party 6 “unwritten” rules of conduct

The unofficial start to summer has begun. It’s time to enjoy the outdoors and socializing with friends a little more. This usually includes at least a few fun trips to the swimming pool for most children.

To this day, I can still vividly remember being 6 or 7 years old and going to the swim club with my Aunt. (I should mention she exuded proper behavior, so I did my best to behave well in her company.) I was happily playing and splashing in the middle of the pool away from most people. I saw her enter the pool, to do as she called – “a quick dunk”.

She proceeded to chat with a very well coiffed woman. I knew better than to yell or interrupt her so I just moved close. I got bored waiting for her attention and decided to practice my swimming summersault. When I came up for air the well coiffed woman was completely drenched head to toe, with make-up running down her face. My Aunt glared over at me, assisted the very upset woman out of the pool, and pretended not to know me until we exited the pool.

When we got in the car I got quite the lecture on how there is a time and place for everything. She kindly reviewed observing and thinking before acting, and how to behave gracefully.

Many years later my own child re-enacted a similar situation. I had to laugh to myself. It reinforced the subtle confusion swimming pool etiquette can present to children. Swimming pool etiquette, like most other event / location-based etiquette, really boils down to observing and being considerate of other people.

Of course, all documented swimming pool rules should be adhered to. This may include more safety and health based regulations – no running poolside, infants should wear swim diapers, showering before entering the pool, no rough play in and around the water.

However, there are also many unwritten rules of consideration that should be extended while at a pool.

  1. Observe your surroundings and make mental notes about what people are doing at certain locations. Your child may observe that there is a certain location where people are simply standing without children splashing around them, or lap swimming only lanes, or maybe they will notice that children don’t play on the steps of the pool or jump into the pool over someone’s head, etc. Every pool has a certain set of “unspoken rules”. Usually just observing and occasionally asking a question if you are unsure is the best approach.
  1. Don’t leave young children unattended. Certainly safety is the primary reason, but very young children also carry the strong potential for being unintentionally annoying to others trying to enjoy the pool.
  1. Try to respect others personal towel or chair space and keep a reasonable distance when possible.
  1. Maintain a respectable noise level. This in no way implies that children cannot shout and yell in a pool. Using there “outside voice” is part of the fun, plus with lots of people and splashing water it frequently is hard to hear at a pool. However, continuous, obnoxious screaming or yelling, “help” when not in distress is not a respectable way to behave.
  1. Bring your own towels when visiting a pool at someone’s house. And always dry off before entering their home.
  1. Don’t forget to bring your sense of humor and fun to the pool. It’s a memorable and entertaining way for children to spend a hot summer day.