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Guest Column - May 2009

Equal Access

A Look at ADA Rules Governing Pools

By John Caden


F

or the last three miles of his 10-mile workout, Tom could think of nothing but plunging into the cool water of the pool located across the street from his new house. With a half-mile to go, Tom picked up his pace and reached the pool drenched in sweat, savoring the feeling that accompanies the completion of a strenuous workout. Tom approached the check-in desk, and the lifeguard working there gave him a funny look and told him that he would be unable to swim here.

Tom had no choice but to turn his wheelchair around, roll across the street and sit under the shower to cool off. Tom changed his clothes and went back to the pool. He learned from the aquatics director that his community operated five swimming pools, but only one was accessible. Unfortunately for Tom, the accessible pool was located on the other side of town, about a 30-minute drive.

Let's rerun this scenario, but use different players.

For the last three miles of her 10-mile workout, Sally could think of nothing but plunging into the cool water of the pool located across the street from her new house. With a half-mile to go, Sally picked up her pace and reached the pool drenched in sweat, savoring the feeling that accompanies the completion of a strenuous workout. Sally approached the check-in desk, and the lifeguard working there gave her a funny look and told her that she would be unable to swim here.

Sally had no choice but to turn, walk across the street and sit under the shower to cool off. Sally changed her clothes and went back to the pool. She learned from the aquatics director that her community operated five swimming pools, but only one was open to women. Unfortunately for Sally, the women's pool was located on the other side of town, about a 30-minute drive.