On May, 23rd four city pools open for the season, and the rest open June 2nd. There are twenty-four total pools that are opening this summer. They city still needs seventy-five more lifeguards for the summer. A staff can be anywhere from five lifeguards to twenty-five lifeguards. Mark Johnson supervises the west side pools. Johnson said, “there is a lot involved” in supervising so many pools. He makes sure that they have enough lifeguards everyday and that if anything is needed they get it. If something goes wrong throughout the day he makes sure that it is taken care of. There is a lot that city lifeguards have to go through to be able to work for the summer. They have to do a skills review, get a drug test, and fill out paperwork at Human Resources. During the summer they have to do drills every Monday or they cannot work for the week. Drills are practicing lifeguard skills and going through them. Johnson says, “it is a full time job condensed in four months.”
Last year a little boy drowned in one of the city pools, changing rules and procedures. The new rule is that you have to be twelve or older to enter the pool without a parent or adult. The old rule was that you could be seven or older to enter the pool without an adult. There has been controversy about changing it, but the rule stays the same this year. If they wanted to change it, the rule would have to go through city council.
They want to teach as many kids to swim as possible. This year they are giving swimming lessons for free to everyone. They are asking for people to pay as much as they can as a donation. Johnson says his favorite part is, “providing a safe clean environment during the summer.” He also enjoys, “seeing people enjoy it (the pool).”
During the summer they have a Swim Derby that is held at Lincoln pool. Kids come and go to different stations. Each station consists of different things to do. The program consists of kids that have participated in swim lessons throughout the summer.
They also have a guard start competition at Ryan pool. guard start is a program where kids come and do the basics of lifeguarding. It isn’t a lifeguard class, but it allows kids to understand what we do as lifeguards and helps them understand safety around the pool. They do a competition with all the pools and the kids will get to participate.
Another program is the all city Swim Final. Throughout the summer kids participate in swim team all around the city and then they come together and compete against other pools. They have swim meets every week at different pools and then the final is at Ryan pool.
Another program is Discover Scuba. Professional Scuba Instructors come and show kids the basics of Scuba Diving. They get to breath underwater and play games with the instructors and other kids in the program. Discover Scuba is at various pools around the city, throughout the summer.
Johnson has been with the city for fifteen years and says he, “enjoys giving back to the neighborhood and city.” He grew up going to the pools as well as many of our guards. For many lifeguards it is all we’ve known to swim in the pools. The city is a cheap place to go to swim throughout the summer and everyone has a ton of fun playing and laughing. The pools are a place “for kids to come and feel safe and enjoy,” says Johnson.