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July 25, 2006 Wanted: Older lifeguards Younger lifeguards’ schedules force pool to hold off opening until mid-June By Vickie Aldous Ashland Daily Tidings The Daniel Meyer Pool in Ashland might be able to have a longer season —

Wanted: Older lifeguards

Younger lifeguards’ schedules force pool to hold off opening until mid-June

The Daniel Meyer Pool in Ashland might be able to have a longer season — if older swimmers are willing to become certified and work as lifeguards.

On Monday night, a group of lap swimmers presented a petition to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission asking that the pool open its season in May on Memorial Day weekend, as it once did, and stay open through mid-September.

The pool has been opening in mid-June in recent years because most lifeguard applicants are high school and college students who are not out of school until June.

The lifeguards receive certification through the American Red Cross or the YMCA, and then receive additional training before they begin work at the Daniel Meyer Pool, according to Recreation Superintendent Rachel Teige and Parks Director Don Robertson.

In the past, the parks department used uncertified employees as lifeguards and swimming lesson instructors — a practice strongly discouraged by the department’s legal counsel and insurance company.

However, that did allow the pool to open on Memorial Day weekend, Robertson said.

He suggested the parks department should reach out to the lap swimming community and try to interest older swimmers in applying to become lifeguards.

“When I read the petition, what I see is 30-odd names of potential lifeguards,” said Robertson, indicating the petition sheets filled with dozens of names.

Parks commissioners embraced the idea of trying to recruit older lifeguards.

Several adult swimmers of varying ages spoke about the importance of lap swimming at the pool.

“If I don’t swim, I’m not going to last,” said Walter Schraub, who has been swimming at the pool for 20 years. “I’m only 84 years old. I want to live a little longer.”

Risa Buck said she swims laps at the Ashland Family YMCA for nine months of the year, but always looks forward to swimming in the summer at the parks department’s Daniel Meyer Pool. Because the YMCA pool is used as a therapy pool, the water temperature is too warm for lap swimmers, she said.

Buck said possibly YMCA lifeguards could be asked to work some shifts in May and early June at the Daniel Meyer Pool so that it could open earlier, before high school and college-age lifeguards are available.

The lap swimmers also asked that the pool be open on the Fourth of July and that the lap swim time from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. be extended to a two-hour period so that more working adults could swim on their lunch breaks.

However, any increase in the time allocated to lap swimming would cut into other pool activities, according to parks staff.

“We have 150 additional children in swimming lessons

because of reducing lap swim time,” Robertson said. “We try to strive for that balance.”

Robertson and Teige said the parks department will work to keep the pool open well into September — after students go back to school — probably by tapping people from the local masters’ swimming program.

Staff writer Vickie Aldous can be reached at 479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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