Waterbury preps city pools, lifeguards meet to address safety ahead of summer opening

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8 was the only news team given access to a meeting attended by all of the City of Waterbury’s lifeguards this summer. It was a chance to work out their scheduling and a last-minute push to stress safety in this summer when more people can dive in again because of low COVID-19 rates and high vaccination rates.

“You have to understand, these young kids and the public they’ve been kind of like incarcerated in their homes because of COVID,” said Victor Cuevas, Supervisor of Recreation, addressing the 35 lifeguards protecting swimmers this summer — five more than the city anticipated. “We have to have all eyes on the water, distractions at a minimum.”

To further stress safety, Cuevas tells News 8 as many as four lifeguards could be on duty at one pool at a time. They’re limiting the number of swimmers at a time to 50. Swimmers have to make an appointment for one-hour sessions. They can do that online at Waterburyparksrec.com.

Workers will also have a piece of paper explaining this at the pool. If residents have trouble with the website and if there are spaces left in the pool, they can scan their phones on a bar code that will be on that paper for future appointments.

When you attend a city pool this summer, you won’t have to wear a facemask and you won’t get your temperature checked like last summer. You still need to socially distance yourself from others not in your group. Lifeguards will only wear masks when interacting with members of the public.

While the lifeguard meeting was going on, crews with the Department of Public Works were busy filling the pools with water. News 8 caught up with crews at Washington Park filling the pool there with 170,000 gallons of water.

“I take great pride in all the work I do,” said Public Works employee, Neil Diringer. “Because it’s all about the kids and them having fun using the pool.”

“You know, last year was a tough year,” said Dom Musco. “And all these kids are definitely going to want to jump in the pool.”

In fact, while they were filling the pool today, three boys ran over to them, asking from the other side of the fence when they get to get in.

That big day is this Saturday. The pools at Washington, Hamilton, and Fulton Parks open at 10 a.m. The pools will be open from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. every day through the end of the summer — just don’t forget to make that appointment.

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