ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
The Hillsboro Municipal Swimming Pool opened the 2004 summer season on Monday, under the direction of first-year manager Matt Vogt.
Vogt, a native of Tampa, has lived in Hillsboro for the past 11 months and is married to the former Laci Frantz of Hillsboro.
Even though the position of manager is new to Vogt, the sport of swimming isn’t.
“I’ve never run a swimming pool before, but I have worked in and around pools for a long time,” Vogt said. “I’ve been involved with swim teams for the past 12 years both here in Hillsboro, where I started, and at McPherson ,where I swam year around for their team.
“I worked for four years in McPherson at the YMCA, five years at the McPherson city pool, and a year at the Salina YMCA while I attended K-State in Salina,” he added. “The last four years of my swim team experience have all been in coaching.”
Vogt, a full-time Tabor College student majoring in physical education with an emphasis in coaching, said the summer employment opportunity is an ideal fit for him.
“This job is great for me because the location is convenient, but swimming is in my blood,” he said. “It’s what I’ve done in the summertime pretty much every summer since I was 15 years old.”
Vogt will rely on assistant manager Emily Dalke to help carry the management chores.
“I hope Emily brings a little bit of wisdom and extra knowledge with her and some different perspectives on things,” Vogt said. “Hopefully, we can bounce some ideas off each other and come up with the best solutions to run the pool as efficiently as possible.”
Vogt said his relationship with his superiors has helped him settle in to his new assignment.
“The city and recreation commission have been very helpful in allowing me to come in and make some changes in my first year,” he said. “The lifeguards have been really helpful, telling me what worked and didn’t work in the past and Garrett Call (former pool manager) was really helpful.
“He left a list of things he thought could be updated or changed and that helped me a lot.”
Most changes, according to Vogt, will be cosmetic.
“We’ve put some new signs up out front that show our hours and prices, and we put a sign up for the swim team to show all their necessary information,” he said. “Hopefully, that will clean up the front of the place a little bit instead of putting hand painted signs up or papers that blow all over.
“We’ve also done some touch-up painting, but that’s about all you’ll see different from years before.”
With a staff of four full-time life guards and five part-time guards, Vogt should have ample assistance assuring the staff’s primary concern-safety.
“We want everyone to have a safe and pleasant pool experience whether they come for a week, a weekend visit with grandma and grandpa, or if they come on a regular basis,” he said.
Another challenging goal is pool sanitation.
“We want to have a clean environment,” Vogt said. “That’s a big challenge with this pool since it’s an older facility and the fact that it’s in Kansas and the wind blows dirt and stuff in the pool.
“It’s always a constant hassle to keep everything clean and nice looking for everybody.”
Patrons can do their part to keep maintenance costs down for the staff too, according to Vogt.
“The biggest thing is to shower right when you get here,” Vogt said. “If people will wash off all the dirt, oil and dead skin that comes with them, that would do a lot.
“We’d also like the kids to wear either a white or gray shirt if they wear one,” Vogt said. “Colored shirts in the chlorine will fade out and affect our chlorine levels.”
Vogt said he, along with all the lifeguards at the pool, are trained to provide the best-possible safety procedures for all users of the Hillsboro pool.
“All lifeguards have to pass the Red Cross lifeguard class,” he said. “We also have CPR training and we do disease transmission training and learn how to reduce blood-born pathogens.
“A lot of guards, including myself, are water-safety instructors, so we can teach swimming lessons.”
Swimming lessons will be available at the pool during two occasions. The first session will run from June 14 through June 25 while the second session will run from June 28 through July 9.
Hours for both sessions will be from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 11:45 a.m. until 12:15 p.m.
“You do have to be preregistered and to do that you just need to stop by the pool during regular hours,” Vogt said.
Those hours are Monday-Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Vogt said the Hillsboro pool is an excellent place to form childhood memories that will last for years, but he also hopes parents won’t expect the pool to serve as a baby-sitting service.
“It’s much more enjoyable if you have a family experience with mom or dad or maybe an older brother or sister,” he said. “But we do have some kids who will just come because they don’t have anything else to do.
“Their parents will expect us to take care of their kids,” he said. “But baby-sitting isn’t the image we want to portray.”
Vogt hopes the pool offers enough incentives and amenities to make it a busy place this summer.
“I think the Hillsboro pool is close and conveniently located, so travel time is short,” he said. “Another thing is the admission to the pool is very cheap compared to other pools in the area that offer about the same amount of entertainment.”
Concessions will be available as always, according to Vogt, offering the same time tested favorites.
“We’ll have ice cream, pop, candy, and all the other things people are used to,” he said.
As always, Vogt said the most important thing patrons need to remember is to follow the rules, which are in place for their own safety.
“The biggest thing is to be careful with the pushing, dunking and shoving,” he said. “Just because you and your friends do that doesn’t mean someone else won’t get involved or hurt.”
With the possibility of a new pool looming, Vogt said he looks forward to another great year at the old facility. But for now, he and his staff enter the summer season with high expectations.
“I feel really happy with how things have gone so far and I think I’ve done all the changes I need to do,” he said. “I don’t want to change too many things in my first year. I want people to be comfortable with what they have here.”