BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – It’s opening weekend for many pools across our region, but just a few weeks ago there were some issues when it came to staffing lifeguards.
“It’s been a really weird opening season, opening week, opening couple of weeks, just due to really the unknowns of how many are we going to have? Taylor Harmon, Recreation Programmer, with Bristol Tennessee Parks and Recreation.
At Bristol’s Haynesfield pool, they’ve struggled to find enough lifeguards and because they still don’t have quite enough, half of the pool is still closed, including the diving well. Also, new this year, they’re implementing a 30-minute swim break so lifeguards are able to take lunch.
“When I was in high school, it was a cool thing to be a lifeguard,” Harmon said. “It’s almost like that pendulum has swung to different areas. So now, it’s really hard to get 16, 17, 18-year-old kids to commit to a summer job.”
17-year-old Brent Justice is one of six who did commit to a summer job as a lifeguard in Bristol.
“I wanted to make sure the community was safe, help kids in any way that I can, better the community,” Justice said. “It’s fun to come outside, get tan.”
Meanwhile over in Johnson City, Legion Street pool officials said luckily, they’re fully staffed this season.
Staffing isn’t the only challenge though. This year, pools are dealing with inflated prices for chlorine. Bristol Tennessee has switched to a new sanitizing system to combat that.
“We went from chlorine sticks to liquid bleach, and so that is something that’s completely different this year for us,” Harmon said. “It’s more cost-efficient, and it’s a little more easy for my guards to handle.”
Despite this season’s struggles, pools around the region are ready to accommodate the season’s eager swimmers. 10-year-old Ania Shell is one of dozens of kids that braved less than ideal weather Saturday to take a dip.
“It was a nice day outside,” Shell said. “Cold.”