The first few weeks of September 2016 have been full of news stories that impact aquatics. Some tragic, others offbeat, we've rounded up the headlines we think you shouldn't miss.
On September 3, a 24-year-old female lifeguard was held at gunpoint, abducted and raped. The woman had been working at a condominium pool in Alexandria when a man approached her at gunpoint. The incident is a shocking one in a community with very few similar crimes, according to The Washington Post. "It’s a very unusual crime in Alexandria — a stranger sexual assault at a public place in the middle of the day,” said Crystal Nosal, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria Police Department, the paper reports.
While police continue to search for a suspect in the Alexandria case, another city is dealing with a sex abuse case of a different nature. A community is expressing concern after a 25-year-old male lifeguard at the Hartman Pool in Redmond, Wash. has been accused of voyeurism. According to reports, the man confessed to taping up his cell phone inside a women’s locker room.
In much lighter news, a bizarre story about lifeguards and sick leave is making its rounds online. According to numerous reports, a lifeguard at the Leisure and Cultural Services Department in Hong Kong has taken a whopping 537 days of sick leave over a six-year period. Yes, you read that right, 537 sick days in six years. Turns out, the action is part of a strike by a union's members to pressure the Leisure and Cultural Services Department into employing more staff to ease their workload. Earlier this year, the union staged two large strikes, and called on the government to employ more lifeguards, raise the retirement age to 65, and improve pay grades, according to South China Morning Post.
In recent weeks, pool attire has been a hot topic in the news, with a backlash concerning France's decision to ban the burqini. Now a facility that made headlines in 2014 when it forced a patron to breastfeed in its locker rooms now is gaining attention for another form of alleged discrimination. This time around, a mother of two is reporting that her children were banned from the pool for wearing rash guards over their bathing suits for modesty reasons. However, operators of Lux Park Leisure Centre in Liskeard, U.K., claim the attire was in violation of its policy and said it had implemented the rule as a form of safety.
Last but not least is the story of a guerrilla lifeguard who is ensuring the safety of an underground pool-hopping society. Toronto artist Vanessa B. Rieger's Nightlifeguard project offers a service to Toronto's urban population who don't have pool access in the hot summer. "People are going be at the pools late at night no matter what, Rieger's philosophy goes, so why not make that experience a little safer, and a little more magical," Vice reports. Read all about this bizarre subculture in Toronto in Vice's coverage. (Warning, contains language NSFW).