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EDITORIAL: Health district’s pool rule is all wet

Local health bureaucrats must be bored silly because they’re now spending their time making it harder for people to exercise.

Swimming and water aerobics are excellent types of activity. Working out in the water can build muscular strength and endurance. It boosts your cardio. It’s a great option for those with injuries or disabilities. It improves heart health. It can also help people lose weight.

If you heard the Southern Nevada Health District had taken an interest in pools, you might assume it was promoting this type of exercise. But that’s not how bureaucrats function.

In 2018, the district adopted new “aquatic facility regulations,” more than 100 pages of mind-numbing minutiae regulating pools and other aquatic venues. There are rules about underwater benches, trash receptacles, walls and lighting. Buried in the rule book is the requirement that “any aquatic venue with a surface area of at least 2,000 square feet” have a lifeguard on duty. HOA pools are exempt.

Local gyms protested, noting it doesn’t make financial sense for them to hire a lifeguard to watch a pool that is empty many hours a day. The health department relented and granted exemptions.

But in April, the district sent notices to local gyms that it was withdrawing those waivers. That affected 19 local gyms that also have pools. Some gyms have appealed the decision, but EoS Fitness is already moving to shut down some of its eight pools permanently.

Consider the absurdities here. Southern Nevada had gym pools operating successfully for decades without lifeguards or these new edicts. As it turns out, businesses don’t need government busybodies double-checking every detail to operate a pool. They figure out the details because they want to attract and retain customers.

Then the district granted exemptions to its new regulations. They were so vital that the agency said businesses could disregard them.

But suddenly, it wants to enforce the rules. It says gyms weren’t following waiver requirements. In response to questions, Jennifer Sizemore, the health district’s chief communications officer, also said, “Two recent incidents have occurred at gym pools.”

This is ridiculous. You should have the freedom to swim in a gym pool and gym owners should have the freedom to offer that amenity. You don’t dare swim alone in a 4-foot deep pool at a health club, but your own personal 8-foot-deep pool is no problem.

The health district has learned nothing from COVID. Shutting gym pools may prevent an occasional mishap, but it will also prevent many more people from experiencing the health benefits of aquatic exercise. That’s counterproductive.

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