Supplement Feature - February 2009
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At the Ready

Staffing Aquatic Facilities

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Keeping an aquatic center adequately staffed and swimming along can present a year-round challenge—even if your facility is only open during the summer. Preserving safety demands more training and expertise from water-side staff than other recreation positions might, and then there's the matter of making those jobs appealing when they're only available part of the year—or when they're competing with the off-season demands of school or other employment. And, once you've found staffers, how do you ensure they have the skills they need and stay practiced enough to be ready in an emergency?

Recreation Management has talked to aquatic centers around the country to determine their staffing solutions, the problem-solving strategies they employ, and the ways they maintain certifications and practice skills to keep their lifeguards ready. Some are open seasonally, and some offer water exercise and recreation no matter the temperature outside, but all have found creative ways to entice the quality safety specialists they need.