Friday is the deadline for lifeguard applicants to turn in paperwork that will determine whether the Maring Aquatic Center will have a 2020 season. Candidates still must navigate the tricky waters of becoming Red Cross-certified in the era of coronavirus (COVID-19).

City commissioners initially voted to keep the swimming pool closed because of a lack of lifeguards, but reversed that vote this week. Although pools in Chanute, Humboldt and Independence hope to open after social distancing is phased out, potential lifeguards must take precautions during training.

Aquatics Director and Interim Recreation Director Monica Colborn said the Red Cross sent 19 pages of guidelines. Essentially, the Red Cross has recommended against certain training and tests, and recommended against certifying lifeguards who do not have that training and tests.

“They have made it as clear as mud,” she said.

When social distancing requirements are in place based on state and local orders, only training that allows for this distance and without contact between students and instructors can be conducted, the guidelines say. If social distancing requirements are relaxed for this type of training, efforts should still be in place to minimize close proximity and contact of students and instructors to those activities that cannot be performed without this close contact. 

“Contact rescues and team-based CPR training can still be conducted with all of the above caveats,” the guidelines said.

For practice rescues, Colborn said applicants will try to provide their own victim. A member of the applicant’s household would come to the pool.

“We want you to be cheek-to-cheek with your family member,” Colborn said.

To qualify for training and certification, applicants must first be able to swim 300 yards, retrieve a 10-pound block from 12 feet of water within 1 minute and 40 seconds, and tread water for two minutes.

Colborn said the aquatic center is trying to squeeze six weeks of preparation into three to meet the city commission’s goal of opening near July 4.

Colborn is under contract with the city to act as aquatic director, but she said she has been working on pool-related issues since February. Although the pool has been closed, she said she has been busier than usual with it because of conference calls and video meetings with other aquatics directors trying to figure out what to do with the season.

Despite the COVID-19 precautions and limits on mass gatherings, Colborn said the Chanute Recreation Center has not been excluding activities. Teams are organizing for softball, baseball and T-ball, although summer day camp was cancelled prior to stay-at-home orders because of budget limitations.

Colborn said open gym is the only thing not yet implemented, although officials talked about having kids bring their own basketballs from home. She said kids would not be able to have pick-up games with others, but could shoot goals with their own household members.


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