We had just opened a brand-new aquatics facility. Week one had come and gone with no major catastrophes.

Because our facility was an indoor wave pool, we felt it was very important to enforce the “no floaties” rule. That said, we did encourage weak or non-swimmers to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved flotation devices or, as we say in the biz, life jackets. Surprisingly this was turning into a problem for many of our patrons.

As the aquatic supervisor, I had fielded many complaints regarding the rule. I had to explain over and over again how dangerous floaties, water wings, noodles, etc. could be in a standard pool, let alone our wave pool, with kids who were not confident swimmers crashing into the waves, each other and their floaties. Still, families were not convinced that the rule was justified.

I knew the rule was valid, so I stuck to my guns.

Then a woman with three children stopped me on the pool deck and thoroughly chewed me out. She had driven all the way here and her children weren’t being allowed to use the wave pool because they were afraid of the waves and needed their water wings to enjoy the pool. The rule was ridiculous and she wanted her money back.

As I stood there on the pool deck, knowing I was right and she was wrong, it dawned on me. Pull some life jackets from our swim lesson stash and let the kids use them.

Ah ha!

Clarity washed over me like the waves on our sandless beach. I offered to let the woman borrow three of our life jackets. She immediately calmed down and agreed. Once her children were safely swimming in the pool, another parent asked to borrow one for their child, then another. By the end of the day, I had gone to the store to pick up a temporary life jacket bin to put on the pool deck.

Not only did this solution provide patrons with an alternative to the floatie rule, but it made our wave pool that much more safe.