Lifeguard shortage delays opening of pools



daily mail staff

A shortage of lifeguards will once again delay the openings of several local swimming pools.

Just 21 people applied to be lifeguards at Charleston pools this year, parks and recreation Director John Charnock said. His department is in the process of interviewing and hiring.

“To open all of the pools we need at least 40 lifeguards,” he said. “So we are only about halfway there.”

The five pools in the Charleston area will stagger their openings depending on the number of lifeguards hired. Pools at the North Charleston and the Martin Luther King Jr. community centers will open Saturday.

The Cato Park pool will open next, followed by the Kanawha City Community Center pool.

Like last year, the shortage of lifeguards will most likely prevent the opening of the Vandalia Neighborhood pool.

Cato Park and Kanawha City Community Center do not yet have opening dates but Charnock said they will likely open a few weeks after the first two pools.

The shortage has become a norm. The city relies on high school and college students to fill most of the spots.

“Although colleges have let out for the summer, high schools have not,” Charnock said. “We also have to deal with seniors who are graduating or going on graduation trips.”

To maintain a safe environment, each pool is staffed with six to eight lifeguards. The shifts rotate throughout the day, with at least three lifeguards in the stand at one time.

The city is still accepting applications from certified lifeguards. Applications are online at and can be turned in at city hall to the human resources department.

Contact writer Josephine Mendez at or 304-348-7917.

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