I was hired five months before the crew completed construction of the university’s new aquatics center, so I could make sure everything was good from an operator’s standpoint. I studied architect’s drawings and attended weekly meetings with all involved.

During one of the meetings, I raised concerns about placement of the zip line cable. The architect told me the zip line was designed to be used only when lane lines were out. This would be more difficult because a rockscape planter was on one side of the pool and a zip line platform was on the other.

I asked about centering the zip line between the two lane lines. This would give patrons a drop zone, and make it easier for guards to stop swimmers and zip liners from colliding. 

The architect said my suggestion could make a zip liner land on top of a lane line. In effect, guards would have to close half of the pool for one zip liner. 

It didn’t make sense to me, so I pointed out an 8-foot lane line gives 4 feet on both sides for someone to fall into. The architect dismissed my concerns and our project manager took his side. We moved on to the next agenda item.

Several months later we opened the new center, and my lifeguards quickly wished we had the zip line over a lane instead of hanging over open water. We had several collisions with zip line riders and patrons swimming below.

Eight months after we opened this brand-new aquatic center, we drained the pool to install the zip line as I suggested. Obviously, it was a lot more expensive. Someone had to come into a completed facility, remove tiles out of the side of the pool and drill into the pool wall to install more anchors instead of just mounting those anchors in a different place when they were actually pouring the pool walls.

Ever since we have moved those lane lines, we have not had anyone get injured from the zip line. In fact, my guards and I actually tried to fall onto a lane line from the zip line, and no one could do it because it was far away from us.

After moving these lane lines, we also have never had a reason to take out a lane line in the leisure pool, which means our lane lines should last a lot longer because we don’t ever pull them out of the water. We also don’t have to close half the pool down to use the zip line, so patrons can continue to swim without colliding with those using the zip line.