« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Cali Owings, Published August 05 2013

It's My Job: The reason Davies Pool is so cool

Paula Comeau, head manager for the Davies Recreational Pool in Fargo, was asked to manage the public pool two years before it opened.

She’s been at Davies since its inaugural full season last summer, when the $2.4 million pool hosted 50,000 visitors.

Comeau keeps the pool running safely throughout the summer as she works toward her dual-doctorate degrees in biological sciences and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education at North Dakota State University.

A 13-year veteran of pool life, Comeau said Davies is unlike most pools in the Fargo-Moorhead area.

How did you get started working in pools?

When I was 15, my mom gave me the option to get my lifeguard certification. I thought that sounded like a much more fun job than serving or anything else. I always liked the lifeguard in the movie “The Sandlot.” so I thought it would be cool to do something like that. That’s when it all began, and I’ve been doing it for 13 years now.

How is being the pool manager different from your previous roles as a lifeguard?.

There’s a lot more work. I always thought that the pool manager had the easiest job. They get to sit around and be in the office and not have to bake in the sun.

The lifeguards enforce the rules. But when people get really angry about the rules, then I have to deal with the really angry people. I also get to make sure that all of our maintenance stuff is running, make sure our chemicals are where they need to be and make sure our guards are where they need to be. There are some days when I don’t sit down.

How did you get started at Davies?

I had lifeguarded at Island Park for three or four years. I left there for a year and was working at one of the Fargo Park District’s sledding hills during the winter and Dave [Klundt, assistant director of recreation for the Fargo Park District] approached me about coming back as a head guard at Island [Park pool.]

In two years they were going to be opening this new pool that was attached to a high school being built – Davies – and he was wondering if I was interested in managing this pool.

I managed for two years as a head guard at Island Park and last year, when Davies opened, it was mine for its maiden season.

What do you like about working here?

I love being outdoors. I love the water. Whether pool or lake, I love being around water. And I really enjoy my staff. They’re very high energy, and they definitely keep me on my toes.

This pool has always been a challenge … We’re finding out most things that work at other pools, like cleaning, running our tills, lifeguard rotations, don’t necessarily work at Davies. So we have to start from scratch.

Why is Davies so different? The location? Its age?

It’s a combination. It is so far south … For the most part, we have families that make a very specific trip to come down.

Every other waterslide in Fargo is 42 inches to ride the waterslide, but here it’s 48 inches and that’s because it is a newer pool.

We’re also the only pool with a 400-gallon bucket that dumps water, so I think we have a much bigger problem with running every three minutes than other pools have. Every kid wants to get under the bucket.

Do you have a favorite memory of working at the pool here?

About halfway through the summer, we had a lady stop us. My assistant and I were walking the deck and she stopped us, which is usually a bad thing, and it put me on edge right away.

But she wanted to compliment us about how professional our staff was while they were doing their job. She said she’d been to other pools and the lifeguards seemed distracted … it didn’t feel like they were watching the water.

She had a daughter who had some medical issues so she really appreciated how professional our staff was and how they watched the water so well.

That made my day, probably made my week, because I do have a young staff and I harp on them all the time that they have to be professional lifeguards. To have the public recognize that was a huge pat on the back for us.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Cali Owings at (701) 241-5599.