Shortage of lifeguards cuts pool hours in Ocala

OCALA, Florida. – The City of Ocala Water Recreation Centers will implement reduced hours of operation beginning Tuesday.

These reduced hours of operation are being initiated to maintain state safety guidelines amid a critical shortage of lifeguards.

According to the American Lifeguard Association, there is a nationwide shortage of lifeguards affecting approximately one-third of public swimming pools nationwide.

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“Unfortunately, this has been a trend for the past few years, even before COVID-19,” said Ocala Recreation and Parks Manager Preston Pooser. “We have experienced increased challenges in recruiting and retaining summer lifeguards. We begin the annual recruitment process in February and offer very competitive remuneration. However, only 60% of our positions were filled this summer.

Ashley Dobbs of the City of Ocala said the city must follow strict safety guidelines that include a 25-to-1 swimmer-to-1 ratio.

To make up for their current shortage of lifeguards, Dobbs said they would alternate hours of operation between the city’s two recreation centers.

“So the facility we’re in today might be open one day, but the next day it’s going to be closed, and we’re going to open the other ad that we’re just going to alternate Wednesday through Saturday,” she says. .

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Dobbs said she hopes more people will apply next year because at this time the city can no longer hire lifeguards due to training time constraints.

“So to become a lifeguard you have to go through lifeguard training, lifesaving training and CPR courses. Because it’s such a long process, we try to do it early in the year,” she said.

The Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center — 2390 SW 36th Ave. — and the Hampton Aquatic Fun Center — 255 NW Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. — will alternate days of operation and continue to run two sessions per day.

As of July 12, the opening hours of the swimming pool will be as follows:

Hampton Water Recreation Center

  • Wednesday, July 13 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 15 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Tuesday, July 19 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 21 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 23 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Wednesday, July 27 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 29 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 30 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. *

Jervey Gantt Water Recreation Center

  • Tuesday, July 12 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 14 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 16 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Wednesday, July 20 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 22 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Tuesday, July 26 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 28 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 30 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. *

* If staffing levels respect security guidelines

Admission per session for a single person is $2 for children 17 and under and $3.50 for adults 18 and over.

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