Washington child protests swimmer age policy at public pool

A Washington 11-year-old spent part of this weekend protesting the city's public pool's age rules.
Published: Jun. 5, 2022 at 11:00 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WASHINGTON, Iowa (KCRG) - A family in Washington is protesting the rules about age limits at the public pool in Washington.

Dilinger Burton, 11, said he is used to going to the public pool by himself.

“We were able to go swimming pretty much every day,” Dilinger said, referring to last summer.

This summer, though, is a different story. Cameron Burton, Dilinger’s father, said he heard younger children could not go to the pool without supervision when Dilinger came home one day.

“I thought it was a joke, so I called and asked, was told, ‘Yeah, it is true,’ and was basically told ‘too bad, so sad,’” Cameron said.

Without an older person to take Dilinger to the pool while Cameron is at work, he may be out of luck. So, to push back, Cameron and Dilinger held a protest Saturday.

“I gave him the idea of making his voice heard, because me going in there as an agitated parent trying to resolve it wouldn’t get anything done,” Cameron said. “We just sat up near the road with signs, you know, our little protest signs and just trying to let the public know that what we feel is going on here is not right.”

An email from Burton described the age guidelines for the pool as “new.” Amy Schulte, the CEO of the YMCA of Washington County which manages the pool in Washington, said the rule about age is not new.

“We’ve always had the parents, or someone over the age of 16, needs to accompany someone who’s under 12 years old,” Schulte said.

Schulte suggested that the change in Dilinger’s case was one of enforcement, not a policy shift. She noted that the on-site management at the pool had recently changed.

“This young man was able to come to the pool without supervision, so apparently that’s something that has slipped through the cracks, and that’s unfortunate we can’t catch everything all the time,” Schulte said.

Jaron Rosien, the mayor of Washington and a former lifeguard who worked at the Washington pool for eight years, sided with the pool’s decision.

“I found lifeguarding to be about prevention, and these policies are in place to prevent problems before they occur,” Rosien said. “You have to choose an age where you’re saying, ‘Younger than this needs supervision.’ Otherwise, parents would—some parents will drop off a five, six, seven, eight-year-old child to swim. The role of a lifeguard is not to babysit, but prevent issues and keep lives safe.”

Schulte said she understood the policy could create challenges for some parents.

“The important thing is that I just hope people understand where we’re coming from,” Schulte said.

Cameron believes swimming is beneficial for his son.

“He gets enough screen time when it’s cold out. I want him out enjoying the times and there’s limited things to do, and swimming is something he could do every day, and it’s the best exercise there is,” Cameron said.

Cameron suggested a compromise that involved all-ages swimming for a few hours, then just older kids.

“Just let the kids swim,” Cameron said.

Copyright 2022 KCRG. All rights reserved.