Lifeguard duty

With whistle in hand, lifeguard Stark Wright mans the diving area.

SOPHIE OSBORN

Tribune intern

With the Maring Aquatic Center opening much later than usual this summer, the lifeguards employed there have had to adapt. 

Providing a clean and safe environment has been a priority for the staff this summer, with various precautions having been put into place. In the pool area, lifeguard Jacob Guernsey said some of the main changes have been removing inner tubes from the lazy river, spacing lounge chairs six feet apart, and outlining boxes around guard stands.

 “We are sanitizing every two and a half hours,” Guernsey said.

Changes have also affected the concessions stand at the pool. Concessions worker Emma Jacobs noted that the snack area has been relocated to the party room and that they are only selling prepackaged snacks – unlike usual years when they are able to sell items such as fountain drinks and hot dogs. 

Despite all of the new safety procedures, staff say most visitors realize the rationale behind them.

“A lot of patrons are being really flexible with it, like they’re really understanding about why we have to clean,” said lifeguard Sabrena Muñoz.

Opening so late in the summer has offered both advantages and disadvantages for the staff. While she noted that she won’t be able to earn as much money, Muñoz does like the fact that the job won’t take up her whole summer. Others have seen this as one of the less favorable parts of the situation.

“I like to work, so for me I would have liked for the pool to open earlier, but due to the safety concerns I totally understand,” said Guernsey.

Head lifeguard Jillian Vogel has taken advantage of the late opening and filled the gap in the community through offering swimming lessons at her home in the month leading up to the pool’s opening. 

The work environment is one of the major advantages the job offers. Vogel, Guernsey and Muñoz all agreed that their favorite part of the job is their coworkers and the fun environment they create. 

“They make it so much fun and we’re just like a good friend group now,” said Muñoz.

Despite all of the challenges, Vogel says the pool has offered a sense of normalcy for many. Kids are able to enjoy a typical summer pastime during a not-so-typical year.

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