Wanna work outside? PARA needs more lifeguards

By WVUA 23 News Reporter Mikayla Mosteller

When you visit the pools and splash pads operated by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority you might not notice what’s missing. There are lifeguards, but there aren’t enough.

PARA, like many organizations with swimming pools, needs more lifeguards. Aquatics Manager Mark Harrison said PARA currently has about 110 lifeguards, which is enough — but barely. His goal is 130.

Between PARA’s pools and splash pads, the pool at Bowers Park is the one most in need because it’s also the busiest.

Parents visiting the pool on Friday said they’re concerned about the potential lack of supervision in the pool. That day, there were loads of swimmers with three lifeguards on duty.

Harrison said the number of lifeguards needed varies depending on how busy the pool is, but their goal is one lifeguard per 25 swimmers.

Without meeting that staffing goal, lifeguards are tasked with keeping their eyes on more than they can confidently handle.

Parents’ eyes are additional help, but they’re no replacement for trained workers.

Katie Phillips, who was at the pool with her children Friday, said lifeguards are irreplaceable.

“They always have to have their eyes open and if there are not enough eyes for the number of people here, then it’s not a safe place,” Phillips said.

The Bowers Park Pool features a water slide, rock climbing wall and a diving board, meaning adults and children are climbing, sliding and splashing all day.

Another parent, Samantha Gimbalvo, said if she’s at the pool with her children, she or her husband are in the water with them at all times.

“Even if they had 100 lifeguards we probably wouldn’t leave them on their own,” Gimbalvo said. “I would not feel comfortable with the number of kids here and the number of lifeguards even if we did allow our kids to stay by themselves at the pool.”

If you know anyone who might be interested in becoming a lifeguard, you can learn more right here. Lifeguards must be at least 15, and training is provided.

Categories: Local News