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Thunder and Lightning Policy

Supported by The National Lightning Safety Institute.

This is our team's safety policy, although note that our lifeguards have the final say regarding pool closure. They are employed by our pool management company, whose policy may be even more strict. When they allow the pool to be open, the TSA reps for both swim teams will decide whether to proceed with the swim meet.

  • When Thunder is heard the pool should be cleared for 30 minutes. Every time that thunder is heard the 30 minutes time should start over. Stay out of the water!
  • When Lightning is seen and thunder follows within 30 seconds, the pool and deck area should be cleared for 30 minutes. The patrons are asked to move to a safer area (cars or homes) for 30 minutes. Every time that happens, the 30 minutes will start over. Reference: http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/swimming_pools.html


Swim Meet Delays

Regardless of TSA allowances for extended weather delays, the Wellsley swim team will strictly adhere to the 1-hour wait from the first delay. After 1 hour the meet will either be rescheduled or cancelled.

Things to consider regarding inclement weather

  • Rain alone is not grounds for delaying or rescheduling a meet. Please arrive at the pool on time even if the weather is questionable. Never assume a meet is canceled. Unless you are notified otherwise, expect the meet to take place.
  • Wellsley Pool Safety Rules require that all swimmers 10 & Under must have a chaperone present at the pool. This applies to swim practices and swim meets (home and away). If you drop off your child at the pool, there must be a guardian (14 or older) at the pool who is responsible for them. This guardian must ensure they all get to safety (a house or car) when lightning and thunder requires the pool deck to be cleared. Everyone should have a “safety plan” ready for this situation; nobody will be able to stay in the bathrooms or anywhere inside the pool area fence. Please discuss this with your children and guardians! Note: some leniency is granted for swim practices and clinics, when the coaches are de facto guardians for your child. However, this applies ONLY DURING your child's own age group practice time. If your 10&Under child misbehaves in any way at any time before/during/after practice, then this privilege will be revoked and we will require a guardian to be present at the pool at all times with that child. Kids should not arrive too early before their practice nor linger afterwards.
  • Sign up for TeamSnap! Timely announcements concerning the decisions to delay and resume the swim meets will be sent via email and text broadcast – to everyone that signs up for this on the home page. Typically people can start back to the pool after 20 minutes of clear weather, and enter the pool area and resume the meet after 30 minutes following the final lightning.

During Summer Storms

  • Patrons should seek shelter and stay away from tall trees/ objects, metal objects, standing pools of water, and open fields.
  • Land line telephones should only be used in emergency situations.
  • Avoid using locker room showers as lightning can travel through the plumbing.

Storm Facts

  • All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous.
  • Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from rainfall.
  • You are in danger of lightning if you can hear thunder.
  • Lightning’s behavior is random and unpredictable.
  • Lightning can travel sideways for up to 10 miles even when the sky looks blue and clear – be cautious!
  • Swimming pools are connected to a much larger surface area via underground water pipes, gas lines, electric and telephone wiring, etc. Lightning strikes to the ground anywhere on this metallic network may induce shocks elsewhere.


Additional Background About Inclement Weather Policy

  • Wellsley Pool Safety Rules for Inclement Weather are posted at the pool and are enforced by the head lifeguard, who is employed by Carolina Pool Management (CPM). The rules are based on recommendations from the National Lightning Safety Institute (NLSI) http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_pls/swimming_pools.html. The sound of thunder requires immediate removal from pool water for 30 minutes. Lightning requires removal from the entire fenced-in pool deck for 30 minutes, which means we must go to our cars and homes. There is an exception for distant lightning (often called “heat lightning”, or backlit clouds) if and only if NO thunder occurs within 30 seconds. The rules are based on what NLSI calls the 30-30 rule, which employs the Flash-to-Bang method which assumes sound travels one mile per 5 seconds, and recognizes danger within 6 miles.
  • Triangle Swim Association http://www.tsanc.org/about/forms.php provides guidelines used by swim teams TSA representatives to decide whether to alter, delay, postpone or cancel the swim meet. Note the TSA reps can choose to delay the meet for additional reasons (e.g. wind, hail, imminent threat), but have no authority to overrule the lifeguards. During a meet, if it looks like the weather might interfere before completion of the meet, the TSA Representatives will do whatever is necessary to finish enough of the meet to satisfy TSA criteria for an official won/loss decision (as was done in the first swim meet of 2010). This means we may swim only the Medley Relays plus the Main Events (first heat) in all agegroups for Freestyle, Backstroke, and Breaststroke. Afterwards, weather permitting, we would go back and swim as many of the extra heats and additional events as possible. Our 2010 swim team parent survey clearly showed that a majority of team members preferred that outcome – even if it meant that many kids did not get to swim; the consensus preferred to avoid asking all the volunteers to try to do it all over again. If the meet is rescheduled due to weather, the make-up meet is typically the next day (Wednesday).
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