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Norwich swimming hole reopens with new protocols for beachgoers, lifeguards

New London

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– The only public swimming hole in Norwich is now open. New protocols are in place, which means new life saving techniques and a new way of staking out your spot in the sand.

The Vega family was the first to jump in Spaulding Pond on this opening day.

“The water’s really cold but it’s way better than standing out in the sun,” said Mia Vega, who was at the beach with her two brothers and grandmother.

Many were excited to see the Norwich beach reopen and they will soon see the new protocols in place because of this pandemic. Stakes mark out 15 foot sections.  

“I think it’s good,” said Mia’s grandmother Ingrid Thun, of Willimantic. “Because you know I think we should still be staying apart from each other.”

“When our stakes fill up and then our four tables that’s when we hit capacity,” said Norwich Recreation Director Cheryl Hansin-Preston.

Less capacity and more cleaning. Lifeguards sanitize the picnic tables throughout the day and no longer share their gear.

“As you can see we labeled them for each staff so this is pretty much Eve’s for the whole summer,” explained Hansin-Preston. “She will disinfect and sanitize after her shift and before.”

She will also follow different protocols during rescues.

“One thing the Red Cross is pushing is to use your tube to extend that to a child versus picking them up an pulling them onto the tube if you can for an active drowning situation,” said Hansin-Preston.

Once a rescued swimmer is brought to the beach, a different lifeguard wearing PPE takes over if life saving measures are needed.

“This is the bag valve mask. It goes over the victim’s face so this way there’s no mouth to mouth,” said Hansin-Preston. “So you squeeze this two breaths thirty compressions.

There will also be more preventative life-guarding which means whistles blown long before swimmers get in over their heads so to speak.

Another change involves the changing rooms. They are now kept locked at all times and a lifeguard has to open them up for each person. They are also cleaned in between each use.

“It’s been additional work but it’s worth it to offer this service to the community to have a local beach,” said Hansin-Preston.

Spaulding Pond Beach is the only public swimming hole in the city. 

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