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Q and A: Busy days at the municipal pool

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If there was one place that was pretty popular during last week's hot weather, it was the Farmington outdoor pool.

The pool is open seven days a week, 1-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., for open swim. They offer two-week session swimming lessons Monday through Thursday, and hold water aerobics at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday, too. Single session water aerobics is $4, and the sessions are open to the public. The pool is also open Friday through Sunday, 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m., for adult open swim.

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On Friday, we sat down with pool supervisor Krystle Graber to talk about how things are going out there.

How has your year been so far?

It started out rocky with the cold weather. We had to close early a few days because we didn't have enough swimmers. Now, with the heat and the swim bus going ... yesterday we almost hit capacity, so it's definitely turned around. Hopefully the rest of the summer, as much as we hate the humidity, we hope that it stays warm so we can stay open. We have the middle school parties and we had to cancel one because it was cold. We have two more July 13 and Aug. 18. Hopefully we can keep those on.

With the middle school parties, are those something people can schedule as parties?

We actually schedule them, the middle school party. Basically, it's almost like a middle school dance. We have a DJ come. It's just middle school-aged kids. It's from 8 to 10 at night, they get the whole pool to themselves. The lifeguards do fun activities, we have contests and games. The DJs are awesome. They are so great. They have dance-offs, stuff like that on the deck here. The middle schoolers, they like it a lot. It's $6 and they can come to swim from 8 to 10. They think it's so fun because they can swim at night. They really like it.

Were you a little busy yesterday and today?

Yes, we definitely have been busy. We want to make sure we have enough lifeguards on hand. Today we were able to have an extra break. I'm not afraid to throw an extra lifeguard on or any of the other head guards. We're able to take care of it pretty well. We just keep moving. Sometimes it's hard when you don't get a break but they all understand. I make sure the guards get in the water, too, to make sure they cool down and stuff.

You've been out here for a few years already, haven't you?

For nine. This is my ninth summer. I teach during the school year so it's kind of a nice job to fall back on in the summertime. I've only been teaching part-time so it definitely helps with my student loans.

Were you out here as a kid?

I wasn't. I didn't move to Farmington until 10th grade, so I actually didn't start coming here until then. But like Allison and Sarah Hunter, they live across the street and they've been coming here since they were small. This is Allison's eighth summer. She's been teaching here for a while, too. A lot of the rest of our staff are college kids, so it's great for them to have the security to come back and have that job for the summer.

How many lifeguards to you have?

On staff, I have 17. On a given day, we always have five. If it's hot or if we have in too many people, we'll call in six or seven or eight, or however many we need to make sure everyone is safe in the heat and safe in the pool. We definitely want to make sure we can see everyone in the pool. A lot of time, we'll have daycares who have never been here before, and they don't realize how deep three feet can be. They think age 3 and they'll jump in, so we always like to have extra staff on for when unfamiliar parties come.

What kind of training do your lifeguards have to have?

They all go through training. I know there is one at the middle school. It teaches them all the rescues, the CPR, the AED, all that kind of stuff. And then they have to be able to swim the 300 yards. Then we also have an in-service, every other Friday, and we practice our skills and swim the 300 yards just to make sure everyone is physically fit to do their job. And then we kind of go through things that we see happen here. We definitely practice all of our lifesaving skills pretty often.

I think I was out here for one of those mock drownings.

We try to do those every once in a while, just to keep the guards on their toes. Make sure they know their skills. I'm pretty confident they do. We do them so often, it's like second nature.

What's your favorite thing about the pool?

I like seeing all the people. Since I've been here for nine years, I like watching all the kids grow and I know the other guards are like that, too. It's like, oh I wonder if so-and-so is going to be here this year. I think that's the most rewarding thing, but I like teaching swimming lessons too. It's the teacher in me. I like to teach, so this kind of keeps me teaching all year.

What's your least favorite?

Hot days like today. Our office doesn't have air conditioning, it's very stuffy. I'm thinking that would be everyone's least favorite.

How much sun block do you go through in a season?

Oh my gosh. I bet you each of our guards ... oh, we all buy the big bottles. We probably go through four or five. I go through more. My mom had cancer, so I use a lot more than the rest of them. It's a lot. We used to have a big bottle of sunscreen for the kids, but because of health issues we can't do that anymore. I don't know. I don't know. I guess I never keep track. I never pay attention but I guess I should pay attention. Quite a few bottles.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard started covering the Farmington community in June, 1994. Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the Farmington American Legion Auxiliary Unit 189, and acts as the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
(651) 460-6606
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