Pool Party Etiquette – Don’t be That Guy!

As a hostess of several pool parties over the last 5 years, I have experienced my share of pool party faux pas, bad decisions by guests and some moments I would rather forget. I’ve collected these moments of pool party fails into a series of anecdotes (or warnings) that will help you be alert for potential mini-disasters when you host your own pool party.

Some of these scenarios may persuade you to amend your pool rules and better define what is considered tolerable or intolerable behavior, around the pool.

Beware the Chemist!

Thanks to the magic of youtube dry ice videos and the new iPhone, my father-in-law is determined to bring some dry ice to my pool, “Just to see what happens!” Last summer’s pool party concluded with him and my husband agreeing that the first pool party of the season will begin with a ceremonial “Dumping of the Dry Ice” to open our pool officially. This party is to take place this weekend, and as far as I know, but my rules are standing strong. No Dry Ice, boys. Especially at a pool party. We are not the Bill Nye or Carl Sagan family, and will not be using our pool to discover the wonders of science.

The Tosser Guy

And it IS ALWAYS a guy that can’t bear the notion of someone being at a pool party that doesn’t want to swim. Some people are there for the party and not the pool (which is fine). Regardless if we are talking grown up or children, if there is a person that doesn’t want to swim it is sure to wake the sleeping monster inside of one of your guests that refuses to respect this person’s boundaries. I’ve seen the incognito shoving of the little sister into the pool, I’ve seen the over-over-the-shoulder-like-a-sack-of-potatoes-body-slam-into-the-water, and I’ve seen the unwilling flying dog go flailing into the water. All of these have ended badly and usually with some other retaliation by the unwilling swimmer in the form of a tossed drink or flying appetizer.

The Floating Snacker

I cringe at these words:  “Hey babe, could you bring me a plate of chips, I don’t want to get out of the pool.” Almost always this casual request ends with a bloated pretzel in my skimmer, a hoard of ants on an abandoned plate absent mindedly stranded near the deep end, or the disgusting memory of the 5 Second Rule being applied to pool water. Gross – I highly recommend strictly enforcing a “NO-Eating In The Pool” rule. (This exact scenario sans ants can also be applied to a “NO-Cigarettes” in the pool rule)

The Gentle Giant

Two consecutive years, two pool floats destroyed, by one big friend. I feel bad mentioning this, but there is a tact that can be applied to making sure your larger friends are not matched up with your smaller pool floats. I’ve had several destroyed by a friend of mine that is 6’5 and over 250 lbs. One was a floating hammock sling that no one over 130 lbs really has business sitting in, and maybe that float would still be alive today if I had suggested or just simply tossed the foam float to my friend. The other float, an inexpensive inflatable lounger literally burst at the seams as he attempted to beach himself atop it. The pool float never had a chance.

The Aquatic Urban Cowboy

Again, this breed of partygoer transcends age but is always a boy or a boy in a man’s body, and this person’s actions usually result in a popped float or tears (again, from child or an adult). This is almost always instigated by a giant pool float (in my case it was a giant sea turtle). The Aquatic Urban Cowboy is challenged by the rest of the boys to mount-up and see how long he can hold on as they thrash the float up and down, cannonball it off the diving board, and generally attempt to re-enact a mechanical bull with your pool float. If someone doesn’t get hurt, a float gets popped—or both.

The Eager Beaver

It’s definitely always good to provide pool towels for your guests at a pool party. This isn’t just for their comfort but as the party progresses and people tend to get looser people tend to forget to dry off before entering the house. It usually is prefaced by, “I’m going inside to get a drink, does anybody need anything?” This chivalrous individual, eager to return to the pool with drinks in hand, launches him or herself from the pool on to the deck and bee-lines for the kitchen. My kitchen has a linoleum floor that gets incredibly slippery when it is wet.  Slippery floor, plus slippery people equals slippery results. Find tactful ways to make sure your guests towel off before entering the house. It’s amazing how much traffic from the pool directly into the house (either to use the restroom or to refill their beverage) actually occurs.  Be particularly vigilant with a child friendly pool party.

The Thermostat Whiner

It’s one thing if a handful of guests mention that your pool is too cold, it’s another if it’s always the same person and only that particular person. Perhaps, I’m the only pool owner with this friend. But the pool is never warm enough for this individual. The conversation usually begins like this: “Wow! This water is COLD! What is the thermostat set to? Can we turn it up? There’s no way this pool is set to 86 degrees. Let’s just turn it up to 90. There’s something wrong with your thermostat….”  Clearly, this individual doesn’t appreciate the cost to heating a pool. I’ve found the best way to keep the Thermostat Whiner at bay is to agree to turn up the thermostat, walk around the corner to the pool heater, stand there for a second and do nothing, walk back and ask, “Is it warmer now!” The answer is always, “Yes!  I can feel a difference already!”

The Remodeler

I pride myself on having put together a well thought out pool deck and patio with several distinct sitting areas with a variety of chairs, ottomans, chaise lounges, stools and chairs.  There’s really no ambiguity of what chairs could be considered moveable over to the fire pit and which pieces of furniture should be considered permanent fixtures in their current space. None of these carefully, hand-selected comforts belong in the pool…EVER. It never fails though…  someone gets a little too comfortable in the pool and a little too at home and decides to move one of my Adirondacks into the shallow end of the pool! Also, if it has nice, outdoor cushions like my chaise or outdoor sofa, please don’t move it over next to the flaming firepit! Okay… sorry. Can you tell The Remodeler is my biggest pool party pet peeve?

The Nudist

Classic Pool Sign from PoolmasterSomeday, when there aren’t any children present, I’ll tell you the legend of Naked Guy at one of my pool parties. It’s a legend that actually spills over into my neighbor’s party lore as well because the Naked Guy just couldn’t be wrangled to just one party. Naked Guy was for everyone that night and showed up without warning to both parties. I wish I could give you some kind of guide of what to watch out for to avoid your own Naked Guy incident. But he usually appears without warning. Pool party nudists aren’t limited to men, either. There’s also Topless Girl. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with people wanting to swim or be naked but it’s always best to firmly establish whether it’s a Rated R or PG party.

The Nearly Nudist

This is a personal rule at my pool. Nudity may be tolerated at times but absolutely at no point are Speedos considered acceptable swimwear. C’mon guys. We aren’t in Western Europe or South America. This same can be said for thongs—for both men and women. No Thongs or Speedos at my pool. Luckily, I’ve never actually had to enforce this rule.

The Fire Stoker

I previously mentioned that we have a firepit. Sometimes we also have a smaller fire up near the pool deck. These are not gas firepits but wood burning, old fashioned firepits. You know, the kind where every guy standing around it suddenly becomes an expert on wood burning positions and the ultimate authority on what the fire does and does not need? We’ve never hosted a pool party that didn’t have a fire in the evening. And, I’ve never had a fire in the evening where it wasn’t constantly poked, prodded, repositioned, or over-stoked by the committee of men relying on their primitive know-how on how to keep the fire burning high. It is fun, but I’ve learned that one of the repercussions of all of that activity is that it kicks up a lot of embers into the air, embers that fall back to the earth and land in your pool. Ash is awful in a swimming pool. If you have a cover or a solar cover on your pool or even if you have floats in your pool, these ashes and embers can burn holes right thru!

Hopefully you can relate or learn from some of these questionable but ultimately loveable pool party guests. Perhaps you have a faux pas profile of your own that you encounter at your own pool parties?  We’d love to hear from you!

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Sheryl Sollis
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



Pool Party Etiquette – Don’t be That Guy! — 1 Comment

  1. I recently had to fish an uneaten bratwurst out of a skimmer so the “Floating Snacker” really strikes a chord. And I won’t even tell you what I found in the D.E. Filter I just fixed! But all-in-all your “Aquatic Urban Cowboy” picture is my fav. Thanks for the great post.

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