A unique AI-driven swimming pool technology system takes centre stage at Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, ushering in a new era of lifeguard support and elevated pool safety standards.

Places Leisure is one of the first leisure operators in the UK to implement the advanced AI-driven Assisted Lifeguard Technology system to support lifeguards and elevate swimming pool safety standards. Installed at Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, which the social enterprise manages on behalf of Tewkesbury Borough Council, the innovative system puts the operator at the forefront of technology, says Keith Evans, Director of Safety & Risk at Places Leisure.

"People expect lifeguards to see everything; it's a huge pressure on them. This new system observes people's patterns and behaviours and alerts lifeguards via a smartwatch to behaviours that signal distress. It means our lifeguards can more quickly assess situations and react appropriately. By providing more support for our lifeguard team, we ensure another layer of safety for our customers."

Making pools safer for everyone

The introduction of the new system is a result of collaboration between AI swimming pool technology company Lynxight and the swimming pool safety organisation - Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK), which has brought the system to the UK and Ireland. Installed in nine countries and rigorously tested to meet the stringent demands of pool operators, the system employs AI to identify and prevent potential incidents while enhancing overall pool safety and operations. 

At Tewkesbury, the new technology was able to overcome the challenges which had prevented Places Leisure from installing swimming pool technology in the past, as Evans explains.

"Conventional pool safety systems require underwater cameras, but a warranty on the pool tank at Tewkesbury prevented us from drilling into the side of the pool. The Lynxight system uses standard CCTV cameras overhead. Unlike other systems, it is unaffected by glare or turbidity, continually monitoring what's happening above and below the water, including what is outside the lifeguard's line of sight."

Embracing technology for enhanced safety

The system is designed to manage and mitigate aquatic risks and operates as a comprehensive pool safety and analytics service. Its AI software connects to standard overhead security cameras, delivering real-time alerts on dangerous submersions and water distress situations. The system continuously monitors pool users, alerting lifeguards via waterproof smartwatches about those who may require assistance. Image reconstruction is used to correct footage through ripples and splashes, ensuring everyone in the pool can be monitored. Swimming behaviour algorithms help the system detect those who need help. The smartwatch provides three distinct alerts: blue for advisory, yellow for potential distress and red for dangerous submersion.

Chris Bishop, General Manager of Tewkesbury Leisure Centre, says, "Ensuring the 40-strong team of lifeguards understood the system's benefits was key to its successful introduction.

"The team took part in e-learning and had face-to-face education to learn about the system, but, all along, we have stressed how it's a tool to help them perform their role, not to do it for them. For example, the notifications sent to their smartwatches allow lifeguards to investigate and make relevant decisions. They were very happy to embrace it once they understood how it could support them. 

"Some lifeguards were quicker to adapt to the new system, especially those used to wearables, whilst others took a little longer to get to grips with the new technology. Overall, we have had very positive feedback from the team, and Lynxight is always at the end of the phone to discuss any issues, which has been a great help."

Smarter pool management

In addition to safety alerts, the system provides real-time and recorded data, including pool user counts, location of pool users and alert records. This anonymous data empowers operators to make informed decisions about pool operations, from managing bather numbers to optimising pool timetables, usage, and energy consumption for cost-effective and efficient pool management.

"The pool usage data and activity analytics will help our performance management. For example, currently, we manually count people coming in and out of our pools to manage bather numbers and pool safety. The system does a digital headcount and sends the information to the lifeguard's smartwatch in real-time, which is a much more efficient process. The information gets stored on the platform so that managers can see the usage of the pool at certain times and days," says Evans.

Bishop says, "Just one month in, and the system already provides invaluable insight at Tewkesbury. The data dashboard and heat map give me a comprehensive overview of usage and capacity levels. I can see where people are in the pool at any given time and day. The data will help with reviewing current pool programmes and developing future programmes– it has already confirmed my thoughts about a couple of pool sessions where I could see opportunities."

Efficient and cost-effective installation

The Lynxight system uses standard HD IP CCTV cameras connected directly to a computer, using CAT6e cabling, ensuring the installation is quick and very cost-effective. Covering the main and learner pool, it took just one week for Omega Security Systems to complete the Tewkesbury installation.

The company has provided electronic security systems to the leisure sector for over 30 years.

"As soon as we saw this system, we knew it had the potential to be huge. The system is installable without closing and draining the pool, damaging pool tiles, and investing in costly waterproofing. There is no downtime, no loss of revenue and no impact on the public," explains Omega's Managing Director Richard Ward.

An NSI Gold accredited company, Omega, surveyed the Tewkesbury centre, capturing photos and videos from diverse angles to identify the optimal locations for cameras before installing them and the requirements for all the necessary cabling and infrastructure.

"All we need is power and internet access; we can handle the rest. Lynxight then dials in to install the software. It couldn't be easier."

Omega offers complimentary site surveys and quotations for venues throughout the UK. Additionally, with the system's 12-month warranty in place, Omega provides free-of-charge repairs and replacement of parts if needed.

The future of pool safety?

As the leader in lifesaving and lifeguarding in the UK and Ireland, RLSS UK spent several years investigating the benefits of technology and AI for lifeguarding and lifesaving before working with Lynxight to bring the solution to the UK, expecting the system to transform pool safety in the UK and Ireland.

"The system complements the highly skilled work of trained lifeguards. As a cost-effective solution, we believe the Lynxight system will allow more operators to benefit from technology, making pools even safer for everyone," says RLSS UK Commercial Director Jo Talbot.

"With AI and technology impacting most aspects of modern life, why wouldn't you take advantage of the latest developments?

"If we can use technology to put a man on the moon and speak to someone on the other side of the world, why not use it to improve safety in swimming pools?" asks Chris Bishop from Tewkesbury Leisure Centre.

To find out more about Assisted Lifeguard Technology