Sue Johnson and the Alsask Pool

Since 1974, Sue Johnson has worked at the Alsask Gopher Dip Pool and is currently on her third generation of swimming lessons. 

Sue JohnsonSue is now the Manager of the pool, and among her many duties, handles the pool bookings and payment of rentals made to the RM, regularly updates a Facebook page for the pool, and attends monthly Council meetings where she gives the pool report. She manages five other pool employees.

Unfortunately, after working in the pool world for so long, Sue began having health issues and had to see an asthma specialist. The specialist told her that she would have to quit working at the pool. She began working with friends and others to research options because she was not willing to give up the pool. Sue went back to the Alsask Community Club with her health problem, and based the research they had found, the Club opted for a UV system that they installed in 2011.

John Weeks (close friend and volunteer) did all the research on the UV system and at the time there were only two companies that sold this pool technology. For a variety of reasons, they used SpectraLight Ultraviolet (UV) Pool Systems. At the time of installation Alsask was the only the second pool with a UV system in Saskatchewan after the Shaw Centre in Saskatoon. 

Sue loves the UV system. "There is no off gassing, the pool temperature is easily kept constant at 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the two bulbs in the system each last 15,000 hours, it reduces the amount of pool chemical needed (swimsuits don’t fade, it doesn’t affect hair colour). It costs about $1.35/day to operate, and, best of all, you don’t smell like chlorine.  The Heartland Health Region Public Health Inspectors (Jim Webster, Senior Public Health Inspector & John Prince, Kindersley and Area Public Health Officer) allowed us to put the UV system in as a test facility for the province of Saskatchewan.  They claimed if it worked in our pool it would work anywhere.   John Prince has indicated that the water chemistry is perfect."

Sue has strong opinions about how the quality of her swimming lessons affect the health and safety of her students after they leave the pool.  She feels there is a lot of pressure on pools to just "pass" kids in swimming lessons. There are a large number of kids that come to take lessons at her pool that have their badges for higher levels and they don't meet the requirements.  In Sue’s opinion, swimming is a survival skill. Skills need to be taught and practiced until kids can do them. There are no participation badges at her pool.

Sue with Shannon Mundt (ConocoPhillips). ConocoPhillips has been the biggest supporter of the pool for many years, donating rescue tubes that are used for public swim and running lifeguard courses.

The Gopher Dip Pool of Alsask, SK

Alsask is a small community in west-central Saskatchewan, right beside the Alberta border. If it’s not already clear, Al=Alberta, sask=Saskatchewan. Founded just over a century ago as part of a Canadian Forces Base that shut down in 1987, Alsask was restructured into the RM of Milton in 2009; according to the 2011 census there were 131 people that lived in the town site.

The pool was built almost 50 years ago as part of the Alsask CFB.  After closing, the recreation centre and swimming pool were taken over by the village.  It normally runs from April until September with around 500 kids signing up for swimming lessons each year.

Tragedy struck when a fire broke out in the boiler room near the end of 2011. Damage to the boiler room was extensive as both boilers were destroyed. The rebuilding began after that. Renovations to the bathrooms and filter rooms are complete. A grand reopening was held July 22, 2017.

For more information on the Alsask Swimming Pool check out their Facebook Page.

Author Information: Kerry Bailey is the Saskatchewan Parks and Recreation (SPRA) Rivers West District for Sport, Culture and Recreation Field Office Consultant in Rosetown, SK. Nancy Young is the Information and Research Consultant at the SPRA Regina Office.