The swimming pool at home: The good, the bad and the ugly
- Obande Godwin Agbese
- Mon 09 Sep 2019
It was a shocking nation that woke up to the sad story that a popular Nigerian celebrity lost his son on the 24th of June 2018, to the cold hands of death. The 1 year old cutie drowned in the swimming pool located in his dad’s palatial abode.
A swimming pool is a structure designed to hold water to enable swimming or other leisure activities. Pools can be built into the ground (in-ground pools) or built above ground (as a freestanding construction or as part of a building or other larger structure), In-ground pools are mostly common in Nigeria. In Nigeria they are mostly constructed of concrete and fiberglass or plastic. They can be of a custom-ordered size and shape or built to a standardized size, the largest being the Olympic- size swimming pool.
A house that comes with a swimming pool is a luxury house in Lagos. Nay! It is a luxury house anywhere in the world. Houses with their own swimming pool are normally occupied by the middle to high income earners in any society. Swimming pool is a status symbol. It has a lot of social values. To say ‘’my house has a swimming pool” is to mean “I am rich”. A personal swimming pool is therefore a luxury affordable only by those who are economically and financially buoyant. The cost of a swimming pool is not limited to its construction alone, but its maintenance as well. A swimming pool has a very high cost-in-use, thereby making it affordable by and available only in few lucky homes. Having a swimming pool at home is a class segregation mechanism that differentiates the critical mass of the citizenry from the affluent. However, its impact goes beyond monetary and social implications. The sad death of the celebrity’s toddler should draw our attention to this “luxury danger lurking in our home” beyond cursory glance and indifference.
The greatest threat of a pool at home is the possibility of drowning. The danger becomes palpable when we have kids. Children are innocent; they don’t know much about danger. In their uncontaminated minds, they are mostly experimental. The swimming pool therefore holds a special attraction to them. They want to jump into the glowing water, especially if they have seen mum or dad do that. Normally, the children section of the pool is separated from that of adults. But kids don’t know better. They don’t care which is which. Pool is pool and splashing of water all over the place is the ultimate fun they seek. Some kids are hyperactive. The centrifugal adrenalines hardly take a rest from pumping into their veins. They are bursting with internal energy always ready to burst forth. To make some kids stay still is a herculean task. Children have to be monitored all the time.
A lot of the swimming pools in our luxury homes and flats are poorly guarded. Our children are not monitored enough and protected from this seemingly harmless danger. When children are taken to swim, they must be given undivided attention. At no time should a child be allowed to go near the pool without adult supervision. We must constantly remind our maids about this. While the fears of swimming pools are mostly visible in relation to the children, adults too are not necessarily exempted. A foreigner who worked in one of the oil companies in Nigeria was found dead in the swimming pool of the luxury flat that he occupied in Ikoyi, Lagos. He was suspected to be a poor swimmer that went into the pool at an odd hour of the night after returning from a night outing. As rational adults, it is needless to emphasize that we can’t swim, we must resist the temptation to go near the pool alone at any time of the day.
Most pools in homes are show pieces, they are hardly used. So they are mostly ignored. We expect the security personnel to keep an eye on the pool while at the same time, man the gate. The best pool is the one that has its area cordoned off by a perimeter fence or iron grill or wire mesh. In extreme cases, someone is hired to maintain the pool and keep an eye on it. This kind of person must be a good swimmer who can teach others how to swim and also rescue anyone in danger of drowning especially in multi-tenanted luxury apartments. A constant user of a swimming pool should know that we need portable water to occasionally fight off dehydration when excessive swimming is being engaged in. Other dangers of swimming pools include health issues, especially when the pool is not constantly cleaned and serviced. The chlorine in the water can cause dryness of the skin. Germs can fester inside an untreated pool.
The health benefits of swimming cannot be over-emphasized. It is about the only exercise where every organ of the body is involved. Swimming is a great workout because we constantly need to move our whole body against the resistance of the water. Swimming is a good all-round activity because it keeps our heart rate up and takes some of the impact stress off our body. It builds our endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness. It helps maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart and lungs. Swimming tones the muscles, improves flexibility, builds strength by improving coordination, balance and posture. Swimming pool in the home is very good if we remember to do the needful. Death uses even the best of man’s intention to poach life. While we cannot allow the fear of danger to place us in frenzied hysteria and deny us the joy of life, we must always make conscious effort to keep unnecessary dangers at bay. Death is painful but avoidable death is the most painful one. Swimming pool? Yes! With all pleasure as long as we are ready to be responsible enough to make it a thing of pleasure that it is created to be!! While we pray to God to keep our horse from wandering off, we must remember to tie it to a stake.