With summer temperatures returning, area residents may seek respite from the heat at their community pools – but a lack of lifeguards could upend their plans.
Although they’ve covered the certification cost of about $200 for each lifeguard and done all training in-house, DelGrosso’s Park and Laguna Splash — which typically hire 80 lifeguards each season — are struggling to fill vacancies, a said chief marketing officer Amy Mearkle.
The initial lifeguard course is 22 hours of instruction with ongoing training throughout the season. Lifeguard qualifications at DelGrosso are “be 15 and know how to swim” Mearkle said.
“It’s been a struggle” she says. “We are still actively hiring, so we hope to be able to open all attractions as normal.”
If it is unable to find enough help, the park will have to activate plans to rotate the attractions, Mearkle said.
“For example, the lazy river could be open for two hours, then closed to open the wave pool for two hours,” she explained.
DelGrosso even has a page on its website devoted to potential operational changes that customers can review before visiting the park.
“There are going to be situations where guards have situations, time off – so on short staff days we would be forced to run attractions,” Mearkle said.
Pool goers at Altoona will also face restrictions this season due to a shortage of staff, as previously reported in the Mirror.
Despite scouring the area for candidates, the Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission was only able to recruit six lifeguards, including one part-timer, a manager and a cashier.
This means that unless more workers are found, the facility will be open six hours a day, four days a week, according to commission executive director Mike Hofer.
Pool hours will be noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, June 7 through August 13, Hofer said, noting that could change if more lifeguards are hired.
If three or four other certified lifeguards agree to work at Prospect, the commission could “add a day or two – or even three”, Hofer said, although the commission has already tried several job fairs, school events and online recruiting websites.
Realistically, the commission would need 11 or 12 lifeguards to operate seven days a week, Hofer said.
The Blue Knob State Park website tells a similar story. In an alert box at the top of its page, it says its pool would open for the season from Saturday May 28, with weather-dependent hours of operation being 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Monday May 30. may.
The swimming pool will then be closed from May 31 to June 2.
From Friday, June 3, “The pool will begin its modified summer operations, Thursday through Monday, until further notice due to staff shortages,” the alert reads. The hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. would remain.
However, the shortage of lifeguards is not a pervasive problem. Martinsburg Memorial Park Pool has had no trouble filling lifeguard positions this season, said Morrisons Cove Memorial Park Executive Director Chuck Gojmerac.
“We had actually turned down workers for lifeguards, snack bars and day camp workers,” he said. “Our hours remain the same at the pool – 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.”
The pool opened May 27 with new upgrades, Gojmerac said.
“We had a leak in our pool for a few years, but with the help of Haven Ridge Excavating and Greenwood Pools, we were able to find the leak, fix it, and add new cement around the pool,” said Gojmerac. “We are also adding a new heater this season in addition to a new twin turbo twister slide.”
The pool also offers evening swimming lessons in June and private parties from 7:15 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. all week.
Mirror Staff Writer Rachel Foor is at 814-946-7458.