New lifeguards making a splash

Last minute staffing allows pool to open
Katherine Sears
Friday, June 11, 2021
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The majority of this summer’s 32 pool employees pose for a photo at the Lewistown Aquatic Complex on Friday. Until recently, it was uncertain whether the facility would have enough staff to open, but several people were hired last minute.
Photo by Katherine Sears

Opening the pool this past week was a big relief for Lewistown Parks and Recreation Department Director Jim Daniels. Late this spring, the organization was desperately searching for nearly 30 staff to man the Lewistown Aquatic Complex. Fortunately, many young people stepped up at the last minute.
“We seem to have everything covered now and we’re operating at full speed,” said Daniels. “They’re young, but we think we have a real good staff.”  
The department hired 18 new lifeguards and 10 new staff to work the snack shack and office. Three lifeguards and one snack shack employee returned from the previous year, bringing the total to 32. The pool usually staffs between 25 and 40 to operate each summer.

Mary Kepler, the certified Red Cross lifeguard trainer for the pool, is excited for the summer ahead.
“We have an amazing group of young people this year,” said Kepler. “For two weeks, we didn’t know if we’d have enough people to open.”  
When she asked the new staff why they chose work at the pool, she enjoyed their responses.
“A lot of them told me ‘The community needed me and it sounded like a fun job,’” Kepler shared.
Every pool employee receives first aid and CPR training, and the 21 lifeguards receive training beyond that.
“They’re trained in lifeguard skills,” said Kepler. “They’re the ones you see on deck, and are trained in water rescue and can recognize signs [of drowning].”
The lifeguards also conduct swimming lessons, which start June 17.
The City pays for the three-day lifeguard training, and the staff stays involved throughout the summer, with mandatory safety trainings each Monday to sharpen their skills.
“We run a tight ship,” said Kepler. “It’s safe and friendly.”
Snack shack employees greet guests, sell snacks, answer the phone and greet the public. They also handle transactions on the cash register system, which is new this year.
The management is also new this year. Molly Yager, who has worked as a lifeguard in years past, is new to the manager position this year. Jean Irish, who has worked with the pool for eight years, is helping manage the pool and swimming lessons.
The facility has seen a good turnout since opening Monday, according to Daniels, and is up and running just in time for upcoming hot weather. Lewistown temperatures are forecast in the 80s and 90s most of next week.
Open swim hours are 1:30 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Lap swim also runs in the mornings and evenings during the week, and from 11:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends. The facility is also available for private events. For specific times and schedules, call the Civic Center at 535-3045 or the pool at 535-4503.