Saturday, June 25, 2005

City pools open, for now anyway - Lifeguard shortage is a world wide problem

City pools open, for now anyway: "Though City of Pittsburgh pools are scheduled to open today, some face the possibility of closure in July due to a scarcity of lifeguards.

The city has 103 lifeguards ready to go, reflecting the bare minimum needed to operate 13 pools, said aquatics supervisor Shelley Terlecki. There are not enough lifeguards in reserve to handle the inevitable vacations, call-offs, and resignations, she said.

A lack of lifeguards is a problem. Sandcastle needs them. REAMS will need them. Beaches around the world need lifeguards too.

Lifeguards are made in years of play at the pools. Swim teams are often great sources for lifeguards. There is an aquatics mentality that is made over time. The pool rats are the ones that aspire to be lifeguards.

One can't just wake up one day and turn into a lifeguard. You have to be able to swim well. Nonswimmers are out. Average swimmers are out too.

When Pittsburgh's officials worked to pull the plug on its swim team that used to operate at the Oliver Bath House -- I raised a warning flag. We don't have enough kids that can swim well enough to become lifeguards. And, we don't have enough kids who want to be lifeguards either.

Without the kids at the pools -- you'll never be able to fill the need.

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