Tag Archives: Tom J. Griffiths

Fitness Club Settles Quickly with Drowning Victim’s Family

Aquatic Safety Expert

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Consultant ::::

Fitness clubs and hotels are often exempt from the lifeguard requirement. Regardless, these businesses still need to protect and safeguard their guests, especially those swimming in their pools, as the swimming pool is the most hazardous area within the confines of the building. Although these swimming pools are typically “Swim At Your Own Risk” swimming pools, they cannot be ignored by staff, owners, and operators. When lifeguards are not employed by Fitness Clubs, frequent patrols of the pools should take place, and the staff should be trained to handle emergencies.

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Young girl drowns at Family Aquatic Center


Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatics / Water Safety Expert ::::

A family aquatic center differs from a traditional rectangular swimming pool catering to lap swimmers and swim teams in that it has something for everyone of all ages: fountains, water slides, interactive water toys, and more while still maintaining a competition swimming pool.

In this tragic case a young girl drowned while playing in the shallow water “beach” section of the swimming pool. This case was somewhat unusual in that the 10-year-old girl was actually a fairly good swimmer. At the time of the incident, the young girl was playing with an adult supervisor and other children in waist deep water. At the same time, the aquatic facility was in transition, preparing for a competitive swim meet with parents and swimmers filing into the facility. The competition pool adjacent to the leisure pool was closed to all swimmers prior to the swim meet, while the leisure pool remained open to recreational swimmers and parents. The entire tragic scenario was caught on security camera footage.

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Where Have All the High Dives Gone? 2018 Update

Aquatic Safety Expert High Dive

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic / Water Safety Expert::::

For the past quarter century, high diving boards (3-meters; ten feet) have been disappearing from public and private swimming pools across the country. This swimming pool staple, which so many middle aged and older Americans learned to love while they were children, is no longer available for their children and grandchildren.

Statistics indicate that springboard diving is a very safe sport. That is because the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), USA diving and many other water safety agencies have safety training programs for their coaches and follow strict depth and distance requirements to provide safe “diving envelopes” in the water for divers/jumpers. So what’s the problem?

Far too many three-meter (high dives) were placed in recreational settings without the assistance of qualified coaches and springboard diving agencies. Consequently, numerous falls to unprotected concrete decks below have occurred around the country resulting in death or paralysis. Hence, high dives are quickly becoming dinosaurs.

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Little Pool, Big Lawsuit

Aquatic Safety Expert Kiddy Pool

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Consultant ::::

Case Synopsis: A large retail store chain along with several other defendants, including the pool manufacturer and a swim-aid swim suit manufacturer, were all sued for a near fatal drowning event of a 2 year old child. The pool in question was extremely small; a true, blow-up kiddy pool holding less than 12 inches of water.

Analysis: The mother of the child placed a “buoyant suit” on the child to keep her afloat, even though the suit, and the packaging which contained it, stated that the suit was not a “life-saving” device or a “life-jacket” and proper parental supervision was still required. Between the shallow water of the swimming pool and the “buoyant” swim suit the child was wearing, the adults in attendance must have become over confident and let their guard down. While in the house, the adults in charge allowed the child to leave the house, unnoticed and unattended. She climbed down the stairs and entered the swimming pool without anyone observing her. After finding her face down in the water, the child remains in a vegetative state.

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Another Day Camper Drowns During a Swimming Field Trip


Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatics Consultant ::::

Research indicates more than half of all drownings occurring in the United States happen when groups visit an aquatic facility. Larger groups, whether church groups, school groups, sport camps, day camps, or even birthday parties, all require special attention and extra Layers of Protection when visiting lifeguarded facilities.

Groups visiting swimming pools, particularly during open public swims, create an unforeseen hazard with a classic form of miscommunication. Typically, when camp counselors bring their charges to a guarded swimming pool they tend to relax and socialize rather than supervise their children because professional lifeguards are on duty. Conversely, lifeguards believe the counselors know their campers better than the lifeguards on duty and will watch the children in the water with vigilance. Unless specific “group use policies” are put into place prior to the pool visitation, rather than having double coverage of both lifeguards and counselors watching the campers in the water, double trouble results because no one is watching the children, assuming they’re someone else’s responsibility.

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Waterpark Tragedy

Tom J. Griffiths, Ed.D., Aquatic Safety Consultant ::::

A child of tender years attended a birthday party at a popular water park. Prior to the party, the young boy was engaged in swimming lessons; however, not a comfortable and confident swimmer yet. The boy usually wore a life jacket when swimming with family and friends.

On this tragic day, the family took the young boy with his siblings to a pool party; however, they forgot to bring his life jacket. As often happens at pool parties, the parents lost track of their son. The young boy somehow accessed deep water over his head, and drowned, although no one in the facility noticed him.

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