Light crowd shows up as Potter Pool reopens under stricter guidelines

Veteran lifeguard L.P. Francis said he supports the state’s new guidelines for the city pool. CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The sun beat down Monday on about a dozen of the first swimmers to enter Potter Park pool since the July 13 drowning of 3-year-old Jequon Haynes.

Although the temperatures hovered near triple digits, the pool remained sparsely populated an hour after its noon reopening. Parks and Recreation Director Rob Carter said he wasn’t alarmed by the low number of pool patrons.

“It’s not normal for a day like this,” Carter said. “But I think it’s because word just hasn’t gotten out that we are open.”
Carter predicts business at the pool will be slow for a while.
“It’s important for parents to come out and make sure they feel safe, make sure their kids feel safe here,” Carter said.

“The staff is more than ready to get back to work. They are good lifeguards and they handled the situation three weeks ago very well. We’re all just happy to be open again.”

The nice weather, and a day off, brought grandmother Ida Carver to Potter Pool with her granddaughter. It was her first visit. Although she did hear about the July 13 drowning, she said it hasn’t altered her confidence in the lifeguards or her enjoyment of the facility.

Two of the adult supervisors at the pool said they never allow their grandchildren or children to enter any pool without trusted adult supervision, if not provided by themselves, by another family member or friend.

Wilma Haynes, grandmother of Jequon, said she is uncertain how her grandsons, visiting from Dallas, gained entrance to Potter Pool on the day of Jequon’s drowning.
Veteran lifeguard Nathaniel Masters, 20, said that in his three years at the pool, he has observed many children swimming without adult supervision.

He said he embraces the stricter pool policies required by the New Mexico Environment Department, which conducted an investigation after the drowning death.

A long-standing pool policy states that all children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult or supervisor, who must be 16 or older.

The policy will be strictly enforced, pool employees say,
Masters said he turned several children away from the facility Monday because they were under the age of 12 and were not accompanied by an adult supervisor.

“I hope to see just as many adults out here as kids,” Masters said.

on duty at the time of the fatal accident, according to a report by the Environment Department, which required the city adopt stricter standards before Monday’s reopening.

The NMED certified the pool and its lifeguards for operation on Monday morning, Carter said.

Under new provisions, the pool will have six lifeguards on grounds at all times, Carter said.

Four will actively watch the pool, one will be on break and another will take money at the gate.

The pool will retain its normal hours of operation from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. After school starts, the pool will be open from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday until Labor Day weekend, Carter said.