It's a perennial problem and this year is no exception. Finding qualified lifeguards to staff the Dye Natatorium is a challenge.
Located at 400-B S. Snyder Ave., adjacent to Jacobsen Middle School, the facility operated by Tehachapi Valley Recreation and Park District offers a heated, 25-yard six-lane swimming pool and includes showers, changing rooms and restrooms.
It’s Tehachapi’s only indoor public swimming pool and in recent years the district has struggled to keep it operational from around the first of April through Labor Day.
On Saturday, the district offered certification of lifeguards. According to Recreation Manager Brenda Gonzalez, six people were signed up, at least some of them returning from last year.
Certification is required for employment, but jobs are not guaranteed. Another certification session is planned for May.
“It’s getting more and more challenging,” District Manager Corey Torres said.
Gonzalez said that students who are willing to be lifeguards sometimes aren’t available at times people would like access to the pool.
In addition to lap swimming, fitness programs such as water aerobics have been offered in the past. Swimming lessons and recreational swim time are also popular.
Last October a group of pool enthusiasts met with Kaleb Judy, chair of the district’s governing board, and staff. Torres noted that the pool has been operating in the red. Lifeguard pay is one of the largest expenses, followed by utilities, security, chemicals and maintenance. Costs have been running about $85,000 a year with revenue just under $42,000.
Attendees at the meeting said they would like to see the pool open year-round with hours that meet people’s needs. They suggested a range of solutions including the potential of seeking institutional sponsorship and finding volunteer lifeguards.
But Torres said last week that the group has not met again and the district is making its best effort to have the pool open again this year.
Gonzales said they hope to open around April 10 and that pool passes will again be available.
As to the schedule, that remains to be seen. It will depend in large part on the availability of lifeguards.
Updated information about schedules and pool programs will be posted on the district’s website, tvrpd.org, when it becomes available.
Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of the Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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