Mountain Rec, Avon prepare to ramp up summer pool operations
Plus, the two entities are teaming up in the face of a national lifeguard shortage
As the weather warms up and the school year comes to a close, Mountain Recreation and the town of Avon are ready to start ramping up their aquatics operations. However, both entities are battling an industry-wide lifeguard shortage. To help increase pool hours this summer, both organizations will host various lifeguard trainings starting May 23 through early June.
“The national lifeguard shortage has impacted every community swimming pool, and Avon Recreation and Mountain Recreation are no exception. One way we can work together to keep our local pools safe is to communicate our training opportunities,” said Kacy Carmichael, aquatics superintendent for the Avon Recreation Department.
“A potential lifeguard or swim instructor candidate can take a standardized American Red Cross certification course at any facility in Eagle County and be able to work at a swimming pool close to home. A teen who wants to work as a lifeguard in Eagle can take a class in Avon and vice versa, providing double the opportunities,” Carmichael added.
American Red Cross Lifeguarding courses teach water rescues, CPR/First Aid training and leadership skills. These skills include prioritizing care in emergencies, working as a team, decision-making and communication. Lifeguards learn what it means to be a professional first responder, how to conduct themselves around patrons and manage their time. Lifeguards also undergo regular monthly training to practice skills and be prepared for emergencies.
As reported in the 2022 National Recreation and Parks Association performance review, only 12% of parks and recreation leaders indicate they are fully staffed for lifeguard positions this summer season as of early May.
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The general decline in interest to become a lifeguard over the past decade has only been exacerbated by the pandemic hiatus on training courses for the past two years, leaving certifications to lapse and no new influx of potential lifeguards. This has led to reduced pool hours and closures altogether at pools nationwide.
“The impact has been felt by our community, from lap swimmers to families; there’s no doubt about that. We’ve had to adjust our hours and close for the day a few times, simply because we don’t have certified lifeguards. We held more trainings in April and hope to see even more interest at our upcoming course,” said Rialto Heller, aquatics supervisor at Mountain Recreation.
“As government organizations, we must abide by elevated rules and regulations to keep pools open and our community safe. Once we have more lifeguards available, we’ll continue to extend pool hours, and as soon as pool hours are stable, we can expand our aquatics program offerings,” Heller added.
In addition to staff trainings, both organizations have increased starting wages and implemented new hiring incentives to get applicants in the door.
To prepare for the summer, Mountain Rec has recently hired a new aquatics coordinator to offer increased lifeguard trainings, consistent pool hours and aquatics programming. The town of Avon has doubled the number of American Red Cross Training swim instructor and lifeguard courses to accommodate increased Learn-to-Swim program offerings.
The town of Avon is expected to open Nottingham Lake on Friday, May 27. Its indoor pool is open year-round. Mountain Recreation’s Eagle Pool will open on June 1, and the Gypsum Recreation Center will see increased hours starting June 6. Due to the lifeguard shortage, the Gypsum Creek Pool will not be opening this summer. Instead, Mountain Rec will allocate staffing resources to the Gypsum Rec Center to offer more open swim hours, and a consistent schedule for members and guests.
Upcoming lifeguard trainings
- Lifeguarding Course | June 2 – 4 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 1-5 p.m.)
Town of Avon
- Water Safety Instructor Course | May 23-27 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Waterfront Lifeguard Training Course | June 6-10 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
To learn more including pool hours, lifeguard training requirements, and to sign up for a lifeguard training course visit MountainRec.org or AvonRec.org. You can also email Heller at RHeller@MountainRec.org or Carmichael at KCarmichael@avon.org with any questions.