"By far, the most important part [of keeping your child safe in the water] is to teach your kids how to swim," Strickland said. "And also to come with them, not just expect us to kind of babysit them, but to come with them and be active with them in the pool. Most of our rescues are people who don't know how to swim. They jump into the pool and they don't realize how deep it is and now we have to go in and get them.
"And it's not just that they don't know how to swim, they don't have kind any of aquatic knowledge at all. They don't understand what 3 foot 5 inches means, or they don't understand a no-diving sign, or they don't understand what blocks are that they have to keep off of. They don't get any kind of aquatic environment rules at all. ... We had one [rescue] opening day. We had a male -- he was 13 -- [who] jumped in from the side. He reached for the wall but he couldn't quite grab it. He then went underwater, submerged and a lifeguard had to go in and pick him up."
With May being designated as National Water Safety Month, Strickland encourages adults to equip youth with appropriate tools to avoid serious injury. Along with helping them learn how to swim, parents should supervise youths 12 and younger at the pool, review the posted pool rules with their children and, if needed, equip them with U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets instead of foam or air-filled toys.
"Every rule we have, we have for a reason, and normally it's something that's happened in the past or an incident that's happened," said Kaitlin Kinney, a pool manager at Dellinger Park. "Like, we've had a lot of problems with the water wings and blow ups. A lot of parents bring their children with [these items] and we don't allow those at the pool because they're not Coast Guard approved. So if something were to happen and your child couldn't swim, then they would be stuck out in the middle.
"There are always lifeguards on duty, but accidents do happen and we just want to take every precaution that we can to ensure that they are [safe]. ... [I also would recommend parents] work with your kids at home in the bathtub or wherever that might be, explain to them the dangers of going near the water without an adult or without a supervisor. That way when they come here -- we don't want them to be afraid of the water but we want them to understand that there is danger and that they need to be a little bit cautious."
Even though the city's swimming season started Saturday, individual pool passes still can be obtained for $40 each at the Dellinger Park Office. Family passes also are available for $100, which will cover up to four people, after which each additional person will be charged $20. With only 250 passes available, seasonal passes are being sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Daily admission is $3 for ages 13 to adult, $2 for ages 5 to 12 and no charge for 4 and younger.
The pools' schedules are:
* Dellinger Park at 100 Pine Grove Road: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m. The pool will be open on Memorial Day, July 4 and its last day -- Labor Day.
* Aubrey Street at 135 Aubrey St.: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
In addition to passes, registration also is under way at the Dellinger Park Office for upcoming swimming lessons. The next two-week session starts June 6. Open for 6-month-olds to adults, each session is $50 per person.
For more information about the city's swimming lessons or pool passes, call the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department at 770-387-5626 or visit www.cityofcartersville.org/index.aspx?NID=22.