A swimming pool with a lazy river in the foreground and a waterslide in the background. Children captured using motion blur move around the pool.
The Smith Aquatic Family Center is one of three city-run pools in Charlottesville that are open for the summer. Credit: Courtesy of City of Charlottesville

After four years of restricting hours, Charlottesville's Parks and Rec Department says it has hired enough lifeguards to keep the city's public pools open as usual this summer.

But they still need more lifeguards.

The three city-run, public pools — Onesty Family Aquatic Center, Washington Park Pool, and Smith Aquatic and Fitness Center — are open for the summer, but are in need of at least 20 more lifeguards to be fully staffed. Currently, the city has about 40 to 50 lifeguards, said Riaan Anthony, interim director of Parks and Recreation.

Logo reads "Short & Important"

But the amount of lifeguards needed is not enough to change the operating hours of the pools, Anthony said.

“It's working, but it would help to have more,” said Anthony.

The city is in need of the additional lifeguards for Washington Park and Smith Pools. It takes 12 lifeguards to operate Washington, and six to run Smith. Onesty, which has been run by New York-based company LIVunLtd since last year, is fully staffed, Anthony said.

New lifeguards are paid $17.50 an hour, whereas returning lifeguards (those who work throughout the school year) are paid $18. Those who apply now will get a $250 bonus for starting, and will get an additional $250 if they work through Labor Day, said Anthony. 

Like previous years, Charlottesville is offering bonuses to those who become lifeguards. However, the city ended its free swim program that allowed new lifeguards to get certified for free. Lifeguards must take a 24 hour certification course — which includes a series of online, medical and swimming assessments — in order to work. Certifications last two years. Applicants can take an American Red Cross lifeguard certification course with the city for $150, and $75 to recertify, said Anthony.

Other public swim areas around Charlottesville are also coming back to pre-pandemic levels. Albemarle County is fully staffed with lifeguards for its beaches, according to Abbey Stumpf, spokesperson for the county. Like Charlottesville, the county suffered a lifeguard shortage the years following the pandemic, but not anymore.

Those interested in becoming a lifeguard in Charlottesville can apply here. Applicants must be at least 15 years of age and be lifeguard certified. Anyone interested in becoming certified must reach out to Charlottesville Parks and Recreation at aquatics [AT] charlottesville [DOT] gov to register for the class.

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