By DAVID SCHOLZ
MARTINEZ, Calif. – Life guard recruitment efforts will likely be an ongoing effort for the Martinez Recreation Department as it readies for the May 2 opening of Rankin Pool for the 2016 season.
So far, 18 lifeguards have been hired and those individuals are going through the training process.
“We are pretty darn close (to meeting hiring goals),” said Patty Lorick, recreational supervisor, who knows she’s far from being out the woods.
“It is a constant problem to make sure we have enough staff available,” she continued, noting at least 10 lifeguards are needed for every recreational swim.
A year ago, recreational swims attracted 300-400 visitors a day and when hot days arrived, those numbers spiked to 400-700.
When swim meets are factored in, attendance a year ago at the pool reached 50,000. So having a sufficient number of lifeguards on hand to meet the demand is essential.
June 16 is staff training and it will be an important date to see whether or not the staffing numbers will be adequate to meet the needs for the rest of the season.
Lorick explained that a lot of the hires use lifeguarding as a place holder for other opportunities like earning summer internships. Then there are those who simply drop out and don’t want to do it.
Further complicating matters are those young people who are now in high school but are preparing to go away for college and have to attend orientation. Some school years start early as well.
Fortunately, the UC schools don’t tend to start until mid September, so that additional time is a blessing for Lorick.
Aside from the recreational swims, Lorick said pool parties are a boon for the pool coffers.
“People are crazy in love with pool parties,’’ Lorick said, citing the easy preparations and minimal clean up. “Bring in some cupcakes, something to eat, and the let the kids swim,’’ she said.
Increasing evening family swim opportunities from June 15 to Aug. 19 is another change planned for the season ahead. On Thursdays and Fridays, as well as Wednesdays when the swim team is not using the pool, pool facilities will be available from 6-8 p.m. for families to bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a dip for an hour or two.
In general, Lorick viewed Rankin Pool as one of the most inexpensive forms of entertainment for families these days.
The convenience of the pool is being made even easier by the acceptance of credit cards this year. This advancement was quietly rolled out toward the close of last year as the staff figured out the system; the service was enjoyed by the public.
There will be no changes to recreational swim fees this year either, which continues a trend since 2011. However, a fee study is underway that might dictate hikes being instituted in the future.
With costs such as minimum wage increases to offset, Lorick said the city is subsidizing the swimming pool but it can only give it so much.