During lap swim, please keep safety in mind. Lap swimmers, please don’t ignore proper lap swim protocol:

  • Lap Swimming Tips: Please enter the pool from the shallow end. To avoid accidents, when entering an occupied lane, please get the first swimmer’s acknowledgement that you are there. Please get kickboards, pull buoys, etc., before entering the pool.
  • Directions: If there are two swimmers in the lane, they must split the lane in half. The entrance of a third person immediately changes the lane to “circle” swimming format.


Children are the victims in nearly half of all drownings in the US each year according to the Center for Disease Control. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related deaths for children 12 and under with nearly half of those children drowning in guarded pools. In additional, five times as many children are victims of near-drowning incidents each year.

The Mahaska County YMCA is committed to implementing proven prevention efforts to ensure that children who swim in our pool are safe. To end that, according to industry standards, children ages 12 and under will be tested to evaluate swimming competency.

For aquatic patrons ages 12 and under:

To pass the swim test, a child must confidently demonstrate to a lifeguard the following skills (in this order):
• Swim one length of the pool on their front without touching the bottom or sides of the pool or lane lines
• Take 10 or less second of rest
• Tread for 1 minute with ears and chin out of the water

Swimmers who pass, will receive a GREEN wristband and gain full access to the pool and does not need a flotation device.

Swimmers that do not pass or do not wish to take the test, will be assessed based on height. If a child who does not pass can stand in the deepest part of the shallow end with their armpits out of the water, they will receive will receive a RED wristband and will be required to stay in the shallow end, and does not need a flotation device. If the child cannot stand in the shallow end with their armpits out of the water, they will receive a YELLOW wristband AND and flotation device, and will gain full access to the pool.

Babies and toddlers are exempt from swim testing or needing a flotation device if they are held in the arms of an adult the entire time they are in the pool.

This policy will be strictly adhered to at all times and does not substitute the need for the direct and active supervision of a parent/guardian of at least 18 years of age.

The results from a swim test are valid for the remainder of the calendar year. If a child with a red or yellow wristband would like to try again for a green wristband, they can retest once a week.

All Personal flotation devices must be coast guard approved. Patrons who require a PFD will be provided one.


At the Mahaska County YMCA swimming is serious fun, and so is safety. That’s why we would like to remind you of our indoor pool severe weather policy.

The indoor pool will remain open at the discretion of the management staff during thunderstorms. We reserve the right to close the pool if severe weather is in the direct vicinity and poses a significant threat. Indoor pools will close immediately when a tornado warning has been issued in the area. All members and staff will receive instruction for the safest location inside the facility while the area is under a tornado warning. Once the warning has been lifted, all swimming pools will re-open.

The YMCA of the USA and the National Lightning and Safety Institute recommend that indoor pools should be cleared during a lightning and thunderstorm. We follow the 30-minute rule. This means that all YMCA pools (indoor and outdoor) close for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder and/or strike of lightning within a 2 mile radius of the area.

“A lot of members want to know why we close our indoor pools during a storm,” says George Allen, YMCA of the Triangle Vice President of Risk Management. “Water is an excellent conductor of electricity. Just because a pool is surrounded by a structure does not make it safe during a storm.”


  • Lightning kills more people in the U.S. than hurricanes and tornados combined.
  • The average storm is 6-10 miles wide and moves at 25 MPH.
  • 13 percent of all lightning incidents involve swimming, boating, and fishing.
  • Thunder is usually heard up to 12 miles from a lightning strike. In other words, if you can hear thunder, you’re in danger of lightning.
  • Lightning strikes can reach up to 10 miles.

That’s why we follow the National Weather Service motto: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.