Prince Frederick, MD – Calvert County’s three aquatic facilities appear to be making progress toward some major goals. During the Calvert County Commissioners’ March 3 meeting, representatives of the county’s Division of Parks and Recreation presented an overview of the progress made in 2016.

The centerpiece of Calvert’s aquatics program is the Edward T. Hall Aquatics Center (ETHAC or “The Hall”), which is, on average, open to the public 100 hours a week, 340 days a year. The Hall is only closed to the public on Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day and for the annual August cleaning. Calvert’s Director of Aquatics Phil Ashworth said ETHAC “was the most-visited Calvert County facility in 2016.”

The Hall has approximately 100 full-and part-time employees. In addition to the “competition” pool—used for swimming meets by teams from the county’s high schools and other organizations—ETHAC has a leisure pool, a therapy pool and a spa. Other amenities at the facility include a fitness room, conference room, party room, locker rooms and family/handicap changing rooms.

A priority at ETHAC and the two seasonal pools at Cove Point and Kings Landing parks is safety and Ashworth noted that, “over the past year the lifeguards and pool managers, as a whole, made over 350 water rescues and responded to numerous medical emergencies which included; seizures, shock, diabetic emergency, head trauma, heat exhaustion, and multiple: abrasions, contusions and lacerations. All aquatic staff, at a minimum, receives CPR [cardio pulmonary resuscitation] and AED [Automated External Defibrillators] training.”

Despite the fact the county’s aquatics program lost approximately $365,459 last year, Parks and Recreation Division Chief Doug Meadows stated, “we think this is a very positive report.” That revenue loss is $165,442 less than the previous year. Plagued with mechanical problems in 2015, The Hall appears to be turning the corner. “We have been bringing people back,” said Meadows. “We are trending up.”

With the exception of private swimming lessons, all of the county’s aquatics programs are rising in popularity. More organizations are utilizing the pools and ancillary facilities as well.

The Hall was built last decade at a total cost—design, land acquisition and construction—of nearly $20 million. Meadows noted that his division “has never been charged with recouping the investment.”

Ashworth cited as some of the goals for the Calvert aquatics program going forward will be improving safety, moving toward self-sustainment, increasing marketing, keeping programs fresh and bracing for anticipated changes to Maryland’s public swimming pools and spa regulations. That issue has been batted around for several years by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The new regulations would be codified and likely go into effect October 1. According to the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the revisions to the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) would mandate new standards for ventilating indoor pools, chemical storage areas, lifeguarding requirements, modifications to the inspections schedules, punitive measures for compliance failures, changes in diving standards and a lengthy list of equipment standards.

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