We have worked very hard to provide aquatic leadership that is
reflective of our diverse community. Most of our aquatics
facilities boast a diverse staff that includes African-American and
Hispanic facility managers. A large group of diverse part-time
employees also leads day-to-day pool operations.
This combination has proven to be very effective in connecting
with, and understanding the needs of, minorities visiting our
facilities and also for promoting participation in our programs and
employment opportunities. Having a diverse group of managers at our
facilities also creates role models within the community who work
to give our young swimmers a glimpse into potential careers in the
wonderful world of aquatics!
Much of what we do in terms of outreach and recruiting has helped
our organization relate to our audience
and encourage minority participation, not only for leisure but also
for professional purposes. It is common for us to include photos of
African-American and Hispanic lifeguards, pool operators and swim
instructors in our recruiting brochures and on our Website. These
marketing efforts reinforce the message that minorities are
interested in participating in aquatics opportunities, and also
serving as leaders and mentors within the specialty.
With multiple indoor and outdoor pools, I realize Prince
George’s County is not the norm in terms of the number of
aquatics facilities and opportunities available within heavily
diverse markets. That's why it will take a concerted effort on the
part of organizations regularly managing aquatic venues and
programs to reach beyond what is commonplace and really seek out
opportunities to recruit and retain a diversified work force.
It is completely normal for people to associate themselves with
activities that provide them with the most comfort, fun and
opportunity for continued learning. It is important for minorities
to feel welcomed within your work force and also within your
facilities and programs. At times, it also may be necessary to
strategically place a “familiar” face to lead your
programs and recruiting events to encourage others to
In terms of recruiting more diverse lifeguard teams, several
options are available to facility managers. For instance, in Prince
George’s County we offer free lifeguard prep courses for
customers and program participants who are interested in becoming
lifeguards, but who may not have developed the strength and
endurance to pass the lifeguarding pre-course. The goal of our
program is to expose candidates to what it takes to become a
certified lifeguard, build their endurance and, it is hoped, open
the door to a lifelong commitment to aquatic safety.
Another option for recruiting a diverse staff is to incorporate
your employment and program opportunities into Hispanic Heritage
Month in September-October and/or Black History Month in February.
annual events are celebrated nationally and are great segues for
interacting with members of these communities.
Finally, good old-fashioned grass-roots marketing is always
helpful. This means hitting the ground running — or hitting
the deck swimming, in our case — and getting out into your
local, competitive swim leagues, schools, churches, job fairs and
festivals to spread the message about employment and program
opportunities within your organization. Be sure to take your story
to the local media, too.
Improving minority participation in aquatics is not just an urban
issue — it is a national issue. As aquatics professionals, we
have the power and resources to reduce these statistics ... one lap
at a time!