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Aquatics – Overview

Niagara Children’s Centre aquatic services provide opportunities to enhance physiotherapy, occupational therapy and recreation activities, and enable children to further develop their functional skills. In addition to program- and service-based activities, the Centre also offers open swim programs for children and their families who may not be able to participate in community-based pool programs due to their condition.

Pool Facilities

The Centre has its own indoor, accessible, heated, saltwater pool, which is located at the Centre’s main location at 567 Glenridge Avenue in St. Catharines.

Aquatics Programs and Services

Aquatics services are provided in one-on-one and group settings. Services are administered by a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or recreation therapist.

We also offer non-structured open swims for clients and their families to enjoy the pool together at scheduled times.

If you have concerns about your child’s medical safety while swimming, please consult your child’s physician before starting any swimming program. Niagara Children’s Centre may request your child’s physician’s approval to participate in a pool program.

Eligibility and Referrals

All referrals for therapeutic swim programs are made by Niagara Children’s Centre staff for children involved in core services. If you are interested in the aquatics program, please speak with your therapist.

Open swim programs are open to all Centre clients. See the Program and Events Calendar and our Facebook page for availability and registration procedures.

Frequent Asked Questions

Why Are My Child’s Swim Times Sometimes Cancelled?

The pool is typically closed for two main reasons:

  1. Niagara Children’s Centre closely follows the provincial standards for pool foulings. If the pool is fouled, it will be closed for up to 23 hours for proper cleaning.
  2. The pool is only open if there is a certified lifeguard present. If a lifeguard is not available, for example due to illness, then the pool will be closed until a lifeguard becomes available.

We will do our best to contact you when the pool is closed unexpectedly. To ensure you receive communications in a timely manner, please ensure the Centre has up-to-date primary and alternative contact information where you can be reached during the day.

Do I Have to Stay in the Building While My Child is Taking Part in a Pool Program?

It is expected that the child’s parent(s) or caregiver(s) remain on deck or in the pool (depending on the program) while the child is in the pool.

Pool Family Information

About the Pool

  • No lifeguard on duty. Supervising Staff are trained in emergency pool procedures.
  • Heated (92-94 degrees), saltwater.
  • 54 inches in the deep end and 30 inches in the shallow end, with a gradual slope from deep to shallow.
  • A submerged dock is available to be placed in the shallow end of the pool to support younger children to be able to stand with their head above water.
  • Entry options include concrete steps with railing, mechanical lift, ladder, or transfer from raised pool ledge with assistance. There is no ramp into the pool.
  • Pool Accessibility: Mechanical lift with a variety of slings; Shower Chair/Pool Transport Chair with gait belt and pelvic/chest support; Shower Trolley/Pool Transport Trolley; Adapted floatation devices
  • Three accessible, non-gender specific change rooms
  • Private washrooms, open showers & curtains for changing areas
  • Change room Accessibility: Mechanical lift, Electric plinths, Shower Chairs/Shower Trolleys


Children with the following conditions should not participate in pool therapy or programs: 

  • Children requiring a Safe Pool Use, Entry, and Exit Form who have an expired Form (greater than one year) OR who have had a significant medical or functional change in condition
  • History of cardiac failure
  • Tracheostomy tube without a suction kit, emergency kit, and backup obturator accessible on the ledge and a Support Person trained in tracheostomy care.
  • Respiratory disease of vital capacity less than 1500cm2
  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Significant open wounds
  • Severe urinary tract infection or Blood infection
  • Loose, frequent stools that cannot be adequately contained in appropriate swimwear
  • Infectious disease – (including respiratory, skin or stool-borne infection) or environmentally communicable conditions (i.e. Athlete’s Foot, head lice)

Pool Cancelations

At times, the pool must be closed unexpectedly due to chemical composition, pool fouling, or staff absences. We will attempt to contact you by phone as soon as possible. Please check your phone messages before arriving at the Centre. 

Safe Pool Use

All Centre clients using the pool require an up-to-date (within 1 year):

Medical Form must include:

  • Any relevant medical conditions (i.e. seizure disorder; asthma; cardiac condition; diabetes; allergies, tracheostomy, feeding tubes etc)
  • Seizure signs/symptoms and protocol, if applicable
  • Use of equipment related to physical disability
Pool Medical Clearance by a Physician for the following conditions:
  • Skin infections with drainage
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure or low blood pressure
  • Uncontrolled epilepsy
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Intravenous, Hep-lock or Hickman lines
  • External collection devices
  • Recent cerebral hemorrhage
  • Chlorine sensitivity
  • Recent orthopedic surgery or fractures
  • Rash or skin condition
  • Active, significant joint inflammation
  • Undergoing chemotherapy
Safe Pool Use, Entry, and Exit Form for the following children/youth:
  • moderate-significant physical disabilities and/or significant visual impairment
  • significant challenges with emotional regulation; inappropriate or unpredictable physical, verbal or sexual behaviour and/or any behaviours that pose a risk to their own or other’s safety
  • Note: for children with significant physical disabilities, an assessment must be completed prior to first pool use that includes recommendations for safe pool entry/exit such as use of the mechanical pool lift.

Supervision Requirements

At all times, a designated Staff Supervisor must be on the deck or in the pool when the pool is in use.

Therapy Sessions

If the Staff Supervisor is in the pool with your child (therapy swims), you may be required to take on the role of Deck Supervisor.
  • This will require you to complete a brief orientation that includes how to call for help in an emergency and basic emergency procedures such as how to evacuate the pool in case of a fire alarm (in the event the Staff Supervisor becomes unable to do so)

Open Registration Swim Session

A Support Person may be required for your child to participate in open swims. More than one Support Person may be required if your child requires pool entry and exit via a mechanical lift (dependent on availability of staff and volunteers).

A Support Person must:

  • Be over the age of 14
  • be able to comfortably stand in the deep end of the pool (minimum 58” tall)
  • demonstrate safe pool behaviours
  • be able to follow instruction/direction in emergency circumstances (respond to requests to vacate the pool etc.)
  • be able to participate in the exit/removal of the individual from the pool)
  • support no more than 3 individuals requiring a support person at one time (dependent on the needs of the individuals), at the judgement of the Supervising Staff Member.

Direct Support in the Pool

Direct Support in the Pool (and within arms reach) is required when the child/youth:
  • is 7 years old or younger AND/OR
  • is unable to consistently follow safe water behaviours and staff instruction AND/OR
  • is less than 58” tall and cannot comfortably swim 15 metres on their front without touching the bottom

Indirect Support in the Pool

Indirect Support in the Pool (not within arms reach at all times but remains attentive to the child/youth) is required when:
  • age 8-13 AND
  • less than 58” tall AND
  • can comfortably swim 15 metres on their front without touching the bottom AND
  • demonstrates safe pool behaviours (e.g. safe entries/exits) and is at little risk of requiring assistance in the water (e.g. becoming dysregulated or having a medical episode)

Indirect Support on the Deck

Indirect Support on the Deck: on deck and remains attentive to the individual

Indirect Support on the Deck is required for individuals who meet all of the following criteria:

  • age 8-13 AND
  • equal to or greater than 58” tall AND
  • can comfortably swim 15 metres on their front without touching the bottom AND
  • demonstrate safe pool behaviours (e.g. safe entries/exits) and at little risk of requiring assistance in the water (e.g. becoming dysregulated or having a medical episode).

No Support Person Required

At the sole discretion of the Supervising Staff member, depending on several factors including the number of adults trained in pool procedures on deck, no Support Person is required for individuals over the age of 14, who are equal to or greater than 58 inches, demonstrate safe pool behaviours and can follow directions in emergencies.

Swim Attire/Swim Diapers

  • No street clothes, shoes, excessive jewelry or undergarments are to be worn in the pool or deck area.
  • Secure long hair with an elastic.
  • All clients who are not toilet trained must wear an article of clothing that will keep fecal matter contained in the event of fouling (e.g. plastic swim diapers, off-the-shelf swim diapers)