You swim a few laps before work or drop the kids off for an hour or two and don’t think anything about it, but someone has to have the pool ready for patrons.
That someone at the Riverton Aquatic Center is Aquatic Center Director Kristi Spriggs.
You might say Spriggs was almost born in the water.
“I’ve been swimming since I was three,” she said.
The 2004 Lander Valley High School graduate was an outstanding swimmer for the Lady Tigers and continued her career at the college level at Fairmont State University in West Virginia.
She competed in the 100-meter backstroke and in perhaps the most challenging event in swimming, the 200-Meter Individual Medley.
“I swam the fly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle in the medley,” Spriggs said.
She was an athlete for legendary Lander swim coach, the late Bruce Gresly.
“He was my coach from the beginning,” Spriggs said. “He was swim club coach all the way to varsity.”
Spriggs earned a degree in Hospitality and Management at Fairmont and seemed destined for a career in hotels, culinary arts, or perhaps cruise ships.
“I wanted to travel. I was the first class to graduate from that university with that degree,” she said. “I love cooking too.”
She spent three years as a certified SCUBA instructor in Montclair, California, but in 2015, she returned to Fremont and took the position at the Riverton Aquatic Center.
The job of an aquatic center director is varied, challenging, and requires just the right person to do it successfully. Spriggs is that person.
With a smile and a positive attitude, she manages a diverse group of lifeguards and swim instructors in a year-round setting that includes beginning swimming lessons for children as young as six months, competitive youth programs, along with middle and high school swimming, and heavy use by community members.
“Safety, love, and fun, it’s a lifetime sport,” Spriggs. “I have to train all the instructors and develop a program following the guidelines of the American Red Cross.”
In the summer that program allows the children of Riverton to learn how to swim.
Spriggs has set three two-week sessions, that encompass eight days of instruction in a 30 to 45-minute framework depending on the age and skill level of the students.
“We have a “Mom’s and Tots” for toddlers that offers children the chance to begin learning to swim with a parent,” Spriggs said.
From there it’s on to pre-school sessions, then six different levels of swimming based on the child’s skill level for ages six and up.
“We offer junior lifeguard and lifeguard training too,” Spriggs said.
Spriggs manages 23 staffers, most of them high school students.
In an effort to make swimming lessons available to everyone, Spriggs writes grants to the Fremont County School District 25 Recreation Board.
“In the last two years we received $700 each year,” Spriggs said. “That’s enough for 20 scholarships.”
Between college graduation, her SCUBA work, and her eventual arrival at the Riverton Aquatic Center, Spriggs used her hospitality degree in a more traditional sense.
“I opened the Holiday Inn Express in Lander,” she said. “Then I went to Cincinnati, Ohio to manage another hotel. It was interesting to move more toward the east coast.”
Spriggs is goal oriented and joked about long-term goals. “There is always a 10-year plan,” she said.
At present, there are upgrades being made to the sauna and steam room at the RAC, and with the young age of the staff, there are always new people to hire and train.
“We can always handle new staff,” Spriggs said. “All of them must be lifeguard-certified or certified water safety instructors.”
Away from the pool she enjoys the outdoors, loves to camp, SCUBA dive, and takes a big trip every year.
She also works with the K-3 elementary students in Riverton doing a water safety class and works with Riverton High School physical education teachers during swimming units.
“I enjoy it,” she said. “The kids are our bread and butter.”