Pointers for keeping public pools pristine

Mother and child swimming in pool

With more than 20 bodies of water across six YMCA Calgary locations containing nine million liters of water, we have a lot of experience keeping our pools and hot tubs pristine clean!

“It’s a big job to ensure everyone enjoys a safe, hygienic pool environment, and we’re grateful to everyone who helps us by following some simple guidelines,” says Jayne Dyck, Centre Manager, Aquatics North.

Shower before entering any pool or hot tub, and be sure to use soap. Even if you showered before leaving the house, our skin secretes oils, and our clothes contain residues, dust and dirt – all things we want to avoid in our pools and tubs.
Ensure kids use the bathroom before taking them into the pool.

X Wear outdoor shoes on pool decks. Water shoes or flip flops are permitted, provided they have never been used as street shoes.  
X Bring strollers on decks. Carry infants in arms or use a bucket carrier instead. Strollers can be left in change rooms. There is a viewing area at each Y for parents who want to watch their kids’ swimming lessons. 
X Feed the kids right before going swimming.
X Bring food onto the pool deck.

The YMCA, like all public pools, follows specific rules set out by Alberta Health Services in terms of pool cleanliness standards. These include what to do in case of contamination, how much chlorine to use, inspection schedules, and expectations of patrons.

“We proudly meet or exceed AHS’ standards for pool cleanliness and work hard to ensure our guests are able to safely use our pools for the maximum possible time,” says Jayne.

Avoiding fun-ruining accidents

Sometimes, contamination happens.

“When this happens, we need to shut down the pool between one to 24 hours to clean it,” explains Jayne. “Of course, it’s not fun for anyone when that happens, because it results in sad kids, unhappy parents, disrupted swimming lessons, and reduced time for drop-in swims.”

To avoid such issues, she urges people to take a few key steps.

“It is very important to ensure babies and kids who aren’t yet potty trained are properly diapered, including plastic pants,” she says.

Swim diapers are available to purchase at vending machines at most YMCAs.

It’s important to note that regular disposable diapers will explode if used in the pool. “That causes huge issues for our water filtration systems and can even cause breakages, resulting in pool shutdowns, which we never want to happen!”

Keeping things clean

Lifeguards test the water in all YMCA pools and hot tubs throughout the day to ensure chlorine levels and temperatures are appropriate. YMCA staff also continually clean decks, change rooms and showers.

“Our lifeguards spend a lot of time and energy making sure our pools are clean and functioning well, and we are thankful to everyone who helps us keep them that way,” Jayne concludes.

Did you know? Alberta Health Services’ Pool Standards state:

  • Bathers must take a shower using soap prior to entering the public swimming pool.
  • Patrons must wash their hands using soap after using the washroom or changing diapers.
  • Street footwear must not be worn in wet traffic areas.


YMCA Calgary Aquatic Facilities include:

  • 6 hot tubs
  • 6 lane pools
  • 6 leisure pools
  • 1 flow rider surfing simulator (Brookfield Residential YMCA at Seton)
  • 1 wave pool (Shane Homes YMCA at Rocky Ridge)