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Base pools behind the scenes

  • Published
  • By Monte Miller
  • 375th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Come on in, the water's fine...thanks to a lot of hard work.

When you visit one of the three base swimming pools for a day of fun in the sun, you may not realize just how much work goes in to getting the facilities ready.

Doug Hartung, 375th Services Squadron, Outdoor Recreation, explained operating the pools on a daily basis is a labor-intensive process undertaken by a very small staff.

"The first thing I tell people when they apply is that it is not that glamorous," Mr. Hartung said. "Everyone cleans toilets, including me."

The summer pool preparations begin in April when the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron cleans debris form pool areas, power wash the pools and begin filling the pools with water.

The first week of May, all of the 30 lifeguards are at work cleaning the bath houses, getting out pool furniture, lane ropes and yes, cleaning the bathrooms.

Once the water has settled in the pools for a few days, the lifeguards are also responsible for vacuuming the pools and gutters.

"In the fall, the whole process is reversed," Mr. Hartung said. "Everything is closed up by right after Labor Day. We just have to do everything with about 80 percent less people."

Outdoor Recreation employs 30 lifeguards that are a mix of local teens and dependents that are working summer jobs. All of the lifeguards are CPR and first aid certified as well as being trained in water lifesaving techniques.

Mr. Hartung added the lifeguards do additional training every two weeks throughout the summer swim season.

The lifeguards are also responsible for taking pool water reading every two hours.

The 375th CES also takes water samples every four hours and are responsible for any of the major maintenance that needs to be performed on the pools before the pools open and are responsible for any chemicals that are needed to add to ensure water clarity and safety for swimmers.

"They also come whenever we call them," Mr. Hartung said. "If the levels get too high or too low it can be dangerous. There is a black spot in the bottom of every pool. If the water gets too cloudy to see that dot, we have to close the pool. Safety is our number one concern."

The CE squadron also takes care of any other daily or emergency maintenance including the waterslide, mushroom fountain and pumps that keep the pools running.

Mr. Hartung explained the three base pools are maintained with appropriated funds, which is a good thing for users because the expense of operating the pools would force patrons to be charged for entry to recoup costs.

"We average 200 to 300 people per day between the two pools," Hartung said. "A few weeks ago, we were maxed out and had people standing in line to get in."

He added the Essex House pool located behind the 375th Airlift Wing building accommodates 150 swimmers and the pool behind the fitness center holds 250.

The fitness center pool is the most popular because it features the water slide and kiddie pool.

The third pool, located at the James Gym is closed to the public and is used primarily for lessons, training and other private events.

"About 3 or 4 times a month they use the pool for pilot rescue training," Mr. Hartung said. "They usually get out their rafts and everything, so they have to reserve the entire pool."

Another special event held at the James Gym pool is the Family Pool Party.

Mr. Hartung explained the event includes food, fun, games and giveaways. The most unique thing featured at the pool parties is a 'swim in movie'.

The next Family Pool Party is scheduled for tomorrow from 7 to 10 p.m. and will feature the movie Barnyard.

The summer season is the busiest for Outdoor Recreation, which in addition to the pools also rents a wide variety of outdoor equipment including campers and boats.

"Every Friday, our lots are just about emptied," Mr. Hartung said. "Then on Mondays, this place is a madhouse, but that's the nature of the beast. Without them (renters) we wouldn't have jobs. It's all done with a staff of five."

Since the wintertime is lean when it comes to outdoor things to do, Mr. Hartung said Services and Outdoor Recreation try to come up with more programs and activities.

"We try to help everybody out as much as we can," he said. "We are definitely open to suggestions."
For more information on Outdoor Recreation programs or any of the dozens of classes and special events at the base pools log on to or call Outdoor Recreation at 256-2067.