Stricter rules on young children wearing inflatable armbands at Dundee’s Olympia Centre have been criticised.
A local mother thinks the policy based on adult supervision and the age of children should be changed to reflect whether youngsters can actually swim.
The policy was introduced by Dundee City Council in 2009 in the aftermath of a tragedy in which a seven-year-old boy who wasn’t accompanied by an adult and was a weak swimmer drowned.
Jen Brown visited the Olympia with her partner, two daughters, aged nine months and seven years, and her nephew, who is also seven, and when they paid the cashier they were told the two seven-year-olds would have to wear armbands.
“I asked to speak to the manager about the policy as both children are confident swimmers who both attend swimming clubs and have several certificates for swimming,” she explained.
“The manager told me that due to the children being under eight years of age the policy was that they had to wear armbands and be in arms’ reach of an adult.
“Surely it should be based on swimming ability? It didn’t make sense if a nine or 10-year-old non-swimmer doesn’t have to wear armbands but a child who is eight next month who is a confident swimmer does.”
Jen walked away saying she would be responsible for the children and they wouldn’t be wearing armbands. Once in the pool it was noticed their children didn’t have armbands on, and they were asked to put them on.
She said: “We felt we were being targeted as various other children were not adhering to the policy, and their answer was they were old enough, but without proof of age how did the lifeguards know their age?”
Jen alleged she saw a girl who looked about five years old jumping off the top diving board, and when she pointed this out she was told that you did not have to be a confident swimmer to dive off the boards.
She added: “Surely the policy has to be based on swimming ability and not on age?”
A spokesman for Leisure and Culture Dundee, the trust that runs council leisure facilities, said: “The child admission policy was introduced in April 2009. Information about the policy is displayed at the entrance and various locations in Olympia.
“Management at the swim centre would be more than happy to discuss this with the customer if they get in touch.”
The main provisions of the admissions policy are that the supervising adult must be at least 16 years of age, must accompany the child into the water, must maintain close contact with the child and a constant watch over the child and must stay within comfortable personal standing depth.
All children aged seven years or under must be accompanied in the water by a supervising adult on a one-to-one basis.
Additional children may be admitted to a pool with a supervising adult (in line with maximum adult-to-child ratios), if either wearing swim aids or presenting a pool swimming standard award at reception.