Lifeguard application response leaves hope for city pool openings

May 2—Hope remains there will be enough lifeguards available to open the Jeff Lee Pool and the Chadick Park wading pool this summer season.

Approximately 35 individuals responded to the city of McAlester's request for more lifeguard applicants. City officials issued the request after only two individuals initially applied to work as lifeguards in the city pools.

City of McAlester Community Services Director Doug Basinger said at least 24 lifeguards are needed — which means there's a need for more than 24 applicants. That's because every applicant may not achieve the requirements to become a certified lifeguard.

Following a Tuesday informational meeting for applicants held at the J.I. Stipe Recreation Center, Basinger said "It was a pretty good turnout."

Does that mean he thinks there will be enough lifeguards to open the J.I. Stipe Pool and the Chadick Park wading pool on schedule? Typically, the city opens the pools around the Memorial Day holiday, which this year is May 27.

"We're hopeful," Basinger said.

He won't know for sure until he sees how many of the applicants complete the prerequisite swimming requirements and the lifeguard certification process.

Individuals are required to be at least 16 years of age, which resulted in one would-be applicant leaving the meeting because he had not yet met the age threshold. He was invited to return and apply again once he turned 16.

The city of McAlester plans to pay the $100 Red Cross training certification fee on behalf of each applicant.

Those attending the meeting presided over by Basinger and Executive Assistant for Community Services Shannon Webster were told the prerequisite tasks they must perform before beginning the lifeguard training certification process. Lifeguard applicants for the Jeff Lee Pool were told they will be required to:

—Jump into the water and totally submerge, resurface and then swim 150 meters, which is 492 feet or 164.042 yards, using front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of the two.

—Maintain a position at the surface of the water for two minutes by treading water using only the legs.

—Swim 50 meters using the front crawl, breaststroke or a combination or both.

—Complete a timed event within 1 minute and 40 seconds: Swim 20 meters using front crawl or breaststroke, surface dive eight feet, retrieve a 10-pound object, return to the surface and swim 20 yards back to the starting point.

Applicants must also complete six hours of online training and attend hands-on training in the pool.

The date for the prerequisite swim is May 17, with four hands-on training sessions set for May 18-21, followed by makeup sessions from May 22-24.

That will give the city several days prior to Memorial Day to see how many lifeguard applicants complete the process certification process.