Highlight new classes, events and employment opportunities. Consider hosting an open house or special
deals such as a free class. At one of our facilities, the managers
host a “Water Fitness Open House” for an entire week,
allowing patrons to visit and participate in the new classes for free!
When recruiting new staffers, get creative. We
utilize an aquatics-specific recruiting hotline and email address
to field questions and requests for employment information. Also
look for opportunities to participate in local job fairs, health
and fitness events, and school pep-rallies/assemblies.
Tap into National Water Safety Month. May is
National Water Safety Month and it’s prime time to reinforce
the importance of water safety within your community and remind the
public about your exciting aquatics programs and facility. Use this
month as an opportunity to market free or low-cost events to
generate interest and participation. Our department advertises in
our seasonal guide, Web sites, e-newsletter, facility marquees and fliers.
Offer training courses. By getting swim
instructors trained for pools in your area, a safety instructor
course is a great way to find new instructors, and they generate
revenue. You’ll also want to offer a lifeguard training
course prior to the season’s start. Weekends may enable
high-school students to participate more easily.
Prepare for opening day. What will opening day
look like at your seasonal pool? Will it include any special events
or ceremonies? Start planning early.
Begin summer program registration. Many people
want to plan summer activities for their children early, so
offering summer registration early for these forward-thinking
parents ensures you don’t miss getting them in your programs.
Early registration should include summer swim team sign-ups.
Order/distribute equipment. Be sure all supplies
and equipment are in place. This includes lifeguard uniforms and
administrative materials such as office forms, phones and
Assess your certification situation. Do you or any
of your staff need re-certification? Start planning your strategy
early. By offering challenges and re-certification at the same time
each year, it will be easier to track expiration dates of
Shawn P. DeRosa, J.D.
Check in with college students. You’ll want
to confirm who’s returning as soon as possible (ideally in
January or February), but remember that March and April are spring
break time for your college students. If you haven’t heard
from them already, use that opportunity to find out whether they
have finalized their work plans for the summer.
Advertise for new hires. If you’re doing any
print advertising, remember that magazines generally have deadlines
a few months ahead of the publication date (for example, if you
want to place an ad in an April issue of your community magazine,
the deadline may be in January. Aquatics
International’s deadline is usually 3 months in
advance.) Follow up with high schools and consider nontraditional
sources of potential lifeguards; provide training dates of any
upcoming lifeguard training courses.
Hire! Hire! Hire! You should have a list of who
will be returning confirmed sometime in March, so aim to begin
hiring new staffers soon after that. Review applications; contact
those of interest to set up skills and knowledge assessments; test
all employees for knowledge and skills; and schedule interviews
with those lifeguards who successfully complete the skills and
knowledge testing. By the end of April, you should be ready to
extend conditional offers of employment to qualified applicants and
begin checking references. Conduct background checks before making
a final offer of employment.
Hold a pre-summer training. Once you’ve
hired your staff, bring everyone together to get prepared for
everything that is going to happen at the pool over the summer.
This is also the time to address local, state and federal training
Alison Osinski, Ph.D.
Conduct a complete inventory. Do this at least one
month prior to the scheduled opening day (earlier, if necessary).
Inspect the grounds, safety equipment, the pool itself,
waterfeatures and play equipment, the deck, bathhouse, office area,
pump room, chemical rooms, and auxiliary areas for broken or
malfunctioning equipment, minor maintenance needs, winter damage,
and vandalism. Once you’ve got a list ready, you can
prioritize what needs to be done when and start delegating the
Clean and fill the pool. Once the water supply is
turned on and the pool emptied of all debris, drain the remaining
water with a trash pump, rinse the pool with a power washer and
flush out the gutters or skimmers. When that’s done, you can
begin preparing the pool surface — sandblast, acid wash,
chlorine wash, repaint, replaster and/or patch as needed.
You’ll also want to repaint or touch up any lane lines, depth
markers or other graphics as needed. Begin filling the pool about
seven to 10 days before opening, once you’ve got the system
in place. Grates should be bolted down, pumps and motors set,
skimmer baskets cleaned and in place, and antifreeze drained. Start
circulating and filtering as soon as possible.
Prepare the water. After the pool is filled,
superchlorinate and balance the water, vacuum and backwash as
necessary, and run dye tests. When the water is ready, you can turn
on the heater.
Make your facility shine. Repaint and clean
auxiliary buildings, including restrooms, concessions and locker
areas. Unpack, clean and arrange deck furniture and shade
structures, and replace vandalized or missing signs.
Stay on top of your online presence. During this
season, your Website should be regularly updated with as much
information as possible regarding your facility amenities, fees,
programs, special events, pool rules and water safety information.
Having this type of information readily available for patrons will
limit the number of phone call inquiries and allow more time for
focusing on the lifeguard team and patrons already visiting the
Utilize nontraditional events to spark interest in your
facilities. We partner with our Arts and Cultural Heritage
Division to host “Dive-In” movie events. These events
are featured in an annual “Summer Performances, Concerts and
Summer Cinema” brochure. Normally, clients would not expect
to find an aquatics-related event in the summer arts brochure, but
it’s a great way to pull in new patrons.
Tap into the teen market. We host several aquatics
opportunities within our “Safe Summer” late-night
recreation program. The program mainly focuses on dry recreational
activities; however, our aquatics team uses it to increase youth
exposure and participation in aquatics. Teens and young adults are
allowed free admission to a few of our indoor aquatic facilities
between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. throughout the summer. At this time, we
host swim clinics, water sports and activities, and general
Spread the water safety word. Consider providing
“water safety” information to elementary schools.
Lifeguards in uniform may inspire young children.
In-service training is key. Every staff member needs two to four hours of training each month.
Collect customer program evaluations. How are you
doing? Collect program evaluation forms from every customer in
Keep your staff happy. Keeping the staff happy and
productive requires constant feedback and recognition. Rewards help
to maintain morale, but make sure any incentives you offer are
truly valuable to your staff and find ways to keep rewards top of mind.
Audit your team. Now is the time to see if all the
vigilance in hiring and training you’ve provided has paid
off. Making sure staff is vigilant and can perform required skills
is essential. Observational and skills auditing is an important way
to verify that your team is up to par. If you’re not prepared
to do an audit, consider hiring an outside expert.
Don’t let the end of the season sneak up on
you. Prepare for winter early by meeting with your
maintenance division to discuss winterizing for seasonal pools.
Good planning and coordination and clear expectations can help
ensure everything gets done correctly.
Prepare the lifeguards of the future. Toward the
end of the season, display posters on site to recruit guards for
next year. Running a summer junior lifeguard program also is a good
way to recruit future guards and generate revenue at the same time.
Commence “Operation Recruitment.” Make a list
of the lifeguards you want to come back next season and tell them
that you look forward to having them back next year. Ask if they
plan to return, and arrange to follow up in January.
Inspect daily. Regularly inspect grounds, safety
equipment, signage, fencing and barriers, the pool itself, suction
outlets, waterfeatures and play equipment, the deck and deck
equipment, pump room, chemical rooms, and auxiliary areas. Look for
broken or malfunctioning equipment, minor maintenance needs and
vandalism. If something is broken or missing, replace it or make
repairs immediately. If that’s not possible, reduce the risk
of injury by closing the broken or improperly maintained equipment
to guests until repairs can be made.
Close the pool if it's unsafe, or unacceptable conditions exist.
The following conditions may be hazardous to guests.
- Grates or other suction outlets that are missing, damaged or improperly secured
- Cloudy pool water that prevents drains from being clearly seen from any point on the deck when standing within 4 feet of the pool edge
- Missing, vandalized or inaccurate depth markers
- A malfunctioning recirculation system.
- Barrier fencing or access gates in disrepair, with no lifeguard present for monitoring
- Electrical current leakage
- Pool chemicals are significantly out of range.
- The water temperature above 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare your staff on emergency procedures. Make
sure everyone knows what do to for a fecal contamination,
contamination from vomitus or dead animals in the water, or
bacterial contamination of the water or circulation system.
Complete routine maintenance procedures. Do this
prior to opening each day, and maintain logs. The person actually
completing the maintenance task should initial the daily log
verifying that he/she performed the job. Before opening the pool to
guests in the morning, and prior to closing the pool for the night,
the supervisor should sign the log verifying that all daily
maintenance duties were satisfactorily completed as indicated, and
that the facility was compliance ready. Daily pool chemical and
maintenance logs should be retained for a minimum of three years.
Information from chemical controllers should be downloaded to a
computer and saved. At the start of each week, copies of the
previous week’s daily pool logs should be sent up the chain
of command for review. A one-page summary that includes information
on water quality, chemicals and quantities used, and highlights
unusual occurrences, should accompany the logs.
Don’t overlook preventive maintenance. After
the normal day-to-day routine maintenance and housekeeping chores,
there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get to those
preventive items, but it is essential that they get done. Keeping
up with preventive maintenance — servicing, repairing,
replacing and cleaning equipment and components that make up your
aquatics facility — will help prevent breakdowns, loss of
revenue and costly downtime, and ultimately extend the life
expectancy of your equipment. It also helps identify potential
Welcome new patrons and thank your regulars. A
good way is with nontraditional, off-season events, such as a
“Doggie Dive-In” event. Take advantage of this
opportunity to distribute year-round program information, collect
e-mail addresses and invite participants to try other programs.
Increase community outreach opportunities during Hispanic
Heritage Month. If your department hosts special events or
produces any marketing collateral around this annual event (Sept.
15 through Oct. 15), try to incorporate information about your
learn-to-swim and water safety programs. Also plan to set up a
marketing table at scheduled events. A higher rate of low- to no
swimming ability is present within the Hispanic community, and this
is a great opportunity to educate and engage potential new clients
for your facilities and programs.
Gear up for the year-round competitive swim
season. Advertise “safety training for swim
coaches” opportunities via the Web, fliers and plain
old-fashioned word of mouth! Many coaches are getting heavily into
their swim seasons, so this is a great time to use your
lifeguarding and water safety instructors to run this sometimes
hard-to-find training opportunity.
Review evaluations. Before the end of the summer,
you’ll want to be sure each program participant and staff
member has filled out an evaluation. Staff feedback at the end of
the season can be very useful and often gives great ideas for
improvement to programs and services. By September, you should have
a stack of evaluation forms and it will be time to begin compiling
the data for use when preparing for next year. In addition, annual
attendance reports and revenue data will help your team track
Compile rescue and incident data. Accident, incident and rescue
report data also should be compiled yearly, to track trends and
potentially solve problems. It’s good risk management
practice as well.
Analyze revenue and expense data. Review fees and look closely at
each program area to determine if fees are appropriate and program
attendance is meeting desired outcomes. If the cost analysis
modeling shows potential for fee increases, start working on
getting them approved immediately.
Begin your aquatic staff manual revision process. It’s never
too early to begin your annual manual review. Your manual should be
a living document that changes with agency policies and industry trends.
Put together a “Summer in Review.”
Share fun photos from the summer with your staff. Include key
accomplishments of individuals. This serves as a great way to
connect with employees. You should also remind them that you hope
to work with them next summer.
It’s never too early to start planning staffing for
next season. Are any staffing changes necessary? Submit
budget requests in a timely fashion. Remain alert through the
school year for job fairs at local high schools; collect contact
information throughout the school year from people interested in
lifeguarding over the summer. Send out any additional
info/recruitment packets as needed.
Conduct a comprehensive inventory. Before anything
is packed away, record what you have and what you’ll need new
for next year. Also plan ahead for any major renovation
Store all equipment smartly. This includes all
deck chairs, ladders, diving boards and movable lifeguard stands.
Chemicals and other materials with an expiration date should be
disposed of or returned to the distributor. Opened chemicals can be
stored in tightly sealed containers in a well-ventilated, secure
Winterize the pool. If you properly winterize your
pool in the fall, it can prevent a lot of headaches in the spring.
This process may take several days or even weeks. Start by
superchlorinating and cleaning and vacuuming the entire pool, then
empty and remove skimmer baskets and traps. Backwash filters, drain
sand filters and/or remove any DE filter elements. Once
you’ve lowered the water level to below the skimmers and
return lines, prepare the pump room and install the winter safety
Turn off utilities. Turn off the gas lines and
water supply to the pool and bathrooms. Also turn off any
unnecessary phone lines and unplug any unnecessary appliances, such
as the fridge that stores your lifeguards’ lunches.
Ensure security. Install alarms and make sure
perimeter fencing is secure.
Protect your assets. Make sure all equipment is
properly lubricated and cleaned, as directed by the
Get your recruitment marketing materials out
there. The holiday season is a great opportunity to begin
thinking about marketing new employment opportunities for the
following summer. Focus on training and certification
opportunities, and use the holiday season as a time to get new
lifeguard candidates into lifeguarding and water safety instructor
classes. Students will have time off from school to participate in
classes and they’ll walk away feeling secure that a cool job
awaits them in May. Tag lines such as “Our Christmas gift to
you … a summer job!” might be one way to go.
Use your indoor facilities to host a seasonal
event. Holiday time is family time. Kids are out of school
and everyone is looking for something fun to do. Programs such as
“Swim with Santa” are especially fun for indoor
waterparks or facilities with slides. Use Santa as your slide
dispatcher and allow children to visit with Santa, take a picture,
and then off they go, down your water slide! Lifeguards can serve
as the elves, with little effort involved.
Market water fitness programs as a way to achieve New Year’s
resolution goals. It’s not uncommon for people
to start the new year with a new outlook on their health and
fitness; however, many don’t always remember the great health
and fitness benefits achieved by participating in water aerobics
classes. It is up to you to remind them! Utilize your Web site,
e-newsletters, and staff to educate patrons and market the health
and wellness benefits of your water fitness program.
Increase community outreach opportunities during Black History
Month in February. If your department hosts special events
or produces any marketing collateral around this annual event, try
to incorporate information about your learn-to-swim and water
safety programs. Plan to set up a marketing table at any scheduled
events. A higher rate of low- to no swimming ability is present
within the African-American community and similar to Hispanic
Heritage Month, this is an opportunity to educate the public about
the benefits of participating in aquatics programming and engage
potential new clients.
Analyze spring and summer offerings. Summer
planning starts early. Use the data you collected last year to make
your programs better than ever and determine the number of staff
required. You’ll also need to review equipment to identify
what needs to be replaced and what may need to be purchased to
support any new programs.
Begin the annual budget process. January is
usually when agencies start to think about the budget for the next
Check in with potential recruitment opportunities.
Get in touch with high school coaches and guidance counselors and
provide them with whatever materials they need for students,
information, fliers, posters and the like. Set a notification
deadline of March 1 to hold positions for staffers expected to
return. After that date, prepare to hire as needed.
Make recruitment info, testing dates and application
materials available online. Require an application and
cover letter for all staff members, including returning
Remember your team at the holidays. Consider
“Season’s Greetings” or “Happy New
Year” cards or e-mail messages to last year’s employees
who were asked to return.
Prevent pipe damage. To ensure that your pipes
don’t burst when temperatures go below freezing, add a
solution of one part nontoxic antifreeze (stay away from automotive
antifreeze) two parts water.
Play caretaker. Visit the pool at least once a
week to inspect for vandalism or other damage. See that all covers,
locks and alarms are in place; see that the water level remains