At the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, your health and safety is our primary concern. On this page, you will find water safety guidelines that are utilized across all facilities in our association. Note: Only U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation devices are permitted at the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati.

In order to keep everyone as safe as possible, the following is the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati policy for swimmers 16-years-of-age and younger:

  1. Children 16-years-of-age and under must take a swim test administered by a Y lifeguard before entering the water.
  2. All swimmers who pass the test will receive a wristband to wear each time they come to the pool.
  3. Swimmers will only be required to take the test once, but can re-test at any time.

Green Wristbands signify that the swimmer can go anywhere in the pool.


  1. Swim across the shallow end of the pool once.
  2. Jump into water that is over the individual’s head and return to the surface.
  3. Swim one length of the pool unassisted and without rest.
  4. Tread water for at least one minute, then turn onto back and float briefly.
  5. Swim on front and on back to a ladder or the side of the pool, then exit the pool.

Yellow Wristbands signify that the swimmer may only go in shallow water.


  1. Swim 15 to 20 feet, unassisted.
  2. Float horizontally and move from a facedown position to a face up position.  The swimmer must then stand up and regain a vertical position.
  3. Swimmers who pass the shallow water test may play in water that is armpit deep or less.

Red Wristbands signify non-swimmers who must have supervision in the pool.  Children who do not pass the test for a yellow wristband or who refuse to take the swim test, will receive red wristbands.


  1. A child is always within an arm’s length of an actively involved adult caregiver swimmer who is in the water with the child.
  2. The child is ‘shallow water competent’ and in a zone that is less than armpit deep.  This option requires multiple shallow-water zones separated by appropriate lifelines.
  3. The child is wearing a properly fitted ASCG personal flotation device.

If you have additional questions about YMCA wristband guidelines, call your local Y facility or ask any YMCA lifeguard.

In order to provide a safe and positive experience for all at YMCA of Greater Cincinnati pools, please be aware of the following pool rules and guidelines:

All children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by an adult who is 18 or older.  It is strongly recommended that children ages 9-12 are under adult supervision as well.

  • Swimmers must shower before entering the pool.
  • Swimmers are permitted to wear U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation devices only.  Children may wear approved life jackets only in the shallow end within an adult at arm’s length.
  • Running, horseplay, pushing, excessive dunking and splashing, riding on the shoulders, and tossing others is prohibited.
  • Lap lanes are for lap swim only.
  • Diving is permitted only in areas over nine feet deep. Running dives, flips, back jumps or dives, and jumping off starting blocks are prohibited.
  • At the discretion of the lifeguard, small balls and small diving toys are permitted.
  • Glass containers and gum are prohibited on the pool deck. YMCA kickboards, kick bells, pull buoys, and float belts are permitted for lap swim and instructional use only. Rafts and large tubes are prohibited.
  • Smoking and alcoholic beverages are not permitted on YMCA property.
  • Proper swim attire only. Gym shorts, cut off jeans, cloth and disposable diapers are prohibited.
  • Breath holding and prolonged swimming underwater are prohibited.
  • Ladders and steps are for entering and exiting only. Only lifeguards are permitted on lifeguard chairs.
  • Lifeguards communicate with whistles. One short blast is used to get swimmers attention and one long blast is used to clear the pool.
  • Lifeguards will not hold long conversations while in the chair.
  • Persons with an infectious disease or conditions such as open blisters or inflamed eyes will not be admitted. A person with any such condition may be admitted with a physician’s written statement that the condition is not communicable.
  • All Y pools will close for severe weather.
  • Lifeguards on duty reserve the right to clear the pool for safety checks.

In order to provide a safe and positive experience for all, please be aware of the following water park pool rules and guidelines:

Children with a red band must be accompanied by a parent in a swim suit, within arm’s reach.

  • Swimmers are permitted to wear only U.S. Coast Guard approved floatation devices during open swim.
  • Proper swim attire only permitted in pool.  Swim diapers are permitted. Gym shorts, cut off jeans, cloth or disposable diapers are not permitted.
  • Kickboards are only permitted in lanes and must be used appropriately.
  • Horseplay and running are not permitted in the pool or pool area.
  • Foam, beach, and nerf balls are permitted, at the discretion of the lifeguard. Hard balls are not permitted.
  • Swimmers must shower before entering the pool.
  • Parents are encouraged to observe lessons from the viewing area.
  • Eating, drinking, or chewing gum is not permitted in the pool and pool area. No glass permitted.
  • Diving, flips, and back jumps are not permitted in the water park.
  • Blue pool walls are not for sitting, standing, or jumping over/on.
  • Lifeguards communicate with whistles: one short blast is used to get a swimmers attention, one long blast is used to clear the pool.
  • Swimmers under 16 must be able to swim one length, to be eligible to swim in lanes.
  • Swimmers must observe the areas marked closed/ no entrance.
  • All individuals are to observe instructions from the lifeguards on duty, who are there to aid in your safety.
  • All individuals are required to use the changing rooms at all times.
  • If there are two swimmers in a lane, they may split the lane until a third swimmer joins them.
  • The first person to enter that lane has the choice of splitting or circle swimming.
  • When three or more swimmers are in one lane, we ask that you swim in a counter clockwise direction, with your right side swimming close to the lane line.
  • Always follow proper circle swim etiquette (faster swimmers go first, slower swimmers follow).
  • Maximum capacity for each lane is six swimmers.
  • Lanes are divided by speed. Check the lane signage for the designated speed. All swimmers need to swim in the appropriate lane.
  • Lane speed will change from day to day, due to the swimmers in the lanes and the number of lanes available. Make sure swimmers are swimming in the appropriate lanes. If necessary, kindly ask a member to move to another lane that is more appropriate for their speed.
  • During designated lap swim hours, adults are the primary participants in the lanes. A child may use the lap swim lanes if they are: green band qualified, swimming in a proper manner and not interfering with other lap swimmers in that lane.

(As determined by the county where the YMCA facility is located)


  • YMCA will be open for normal operating hours.
  • Classes/programs will follow their regular schedule.


  • YMCA of Greater Cincinnati locations affected by a Level II snow advisory may have a delay in opening or early closure.
  • Morning, afternoon, and evening classes/programs may be cancelled (except for child watch). Executive directors and group vice presidents will assess the current and forecasted conditions to determine appropriate cancellations/closures. Decisions should be determined based on the following policy:

The decision for morning classes/programs will be made by 6 a.m.
The decision for afternoon classes/programs will be made by noon.
The decision for evening classes/programs will be made by 3 p.m.

Morning = 5 a.m. - Noon
Afternoon = Noon - 4 p.m.
Evening = 4 p.m. to closing

Classes refer to all group fitness (land and water) and programs refer to sports, enrichment, swim lessons, dance, gymnastics, specialty programs, and events.


  • YMCA of Greater Cincinnati locations affected by a Level III snow emergency will be closed. 
  • All classes/programs of the locations affected, will be cancelled for as long as the Level III snow emergency is in place. 

At the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, the safety of members, program participants, staff, and guests is our highest priority. After careful review and consideration of national statistics associated with the use of indoor swimming pools during thunderstorms where lightning is present in the area, we’re pleased to provide our policy below. For outdoor pools, however, swimming during a thunderstorm is extremely dangerous. Lightning regularly strikes water, and since water conducts electricity, a nearby lightning strike is extremely probable.

The indoor pools, water parks, and pool decks at all YMCA of Greater Cincinnati locations will remain open at the discretion of the management staff during thunderstorms. We reserve the right to close the indoor 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. During a high wind advisory outside, pools that have windows will be asked to move all outdoor equipment to a safe location, and the blinds pulled until the advisory is lifted.

Lightning and Thunder: When thunder or lightning is first noticed, outdoor activities will be suspended and all outdoor pools and pool decks will be evacuated until 30 minutes after the last sign of thunder or lightning. The distance from a facility to an approaching thunderstorm can be five to eight miles away, but lightning can strike from a much farther distance.

Heavy rain can make it difficult to see the bottom of a pool or beneath the surface. If heavy rain causes bottom obstruction, pools will be cleared and swimming halted until the rain lets up. Wind can also cause safety hazards. If wind is observably strong or gusty and causes bottom obstruction due to rippling, swimmers will be cleared from pools until the bottom is visible.


  • Part-time and full-time staff should follow the policy stated above and will be contacted by the management staff with updates, cancellations, and any closures. The YMCA Administration Office staff should call the weather hotline.
  • Executive directors and group vice presidents should consult their supervisor to confirm decisions.