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EL may not open pool this summer due to shortages

By STEPHANIE UJHELYI Staff Writer EAST LIVERPOOL — The only ripple felt in the East Liverpool area may stem from an announcement that city officials are unable to open the municipal pool due to lifeguard shortages. However, this is not just a problem here. Last month, Steubenville encountered the same issue, citing the shortage of lifeguards to the inability for them to re-certify amid the pandemic. Signs in front of Tomlinson Park also decry the search for certified lifeguards. Longtime J. Burchfield Cartwright pool caretakers Jim and Amy Swoger explained that it appears to be too late for a lifeline now, as normally they start preparing two months for the big opening day on June 1. For almost two decades, the Swogers have overseen J. Burchfield Cartwright pool, which was constructed in 1939 as part of the New Deal by the Works Progress Association and is now home to the Dolphins’ swim team. Generally an average of 150 to 200 people stop by East Liverpool’s municipal pool in the afternoons, seven days a week in June through mid-August. There, families find access to a 385,000-gallon, state-of-the-art pool that is even larger than Olympic-sized; a separate wading pool for small children and a concession stand that even managed to attract swimmers last year with their pandemic protocol. The municipal pool would need one lifeguard for every 25 people, and they only have three potential certified candidates. Last year, the Swogers had announced their retirement from the pool business to give the city ample time to find a replacement for them, promising to assist their successor. However, no one else apparently has stepped forward to run the pool operations, which actually falls under the city’s oversight instead of Thompson Park board of commissioners. It is a bit of a Groundhog Day moment for Swoger, a former city mayor who said that he stepped forward in 2003 when council wanted to pull the plug on the pool. Since then, he, his bride and other volunteers have been committed to making sure the pool was open and available to area families. Members of the swim team’s inner circle expressed frustration that they were unable to help before it was too late. For both Ashley Cunningham and Bill Smith, they just learned about the pool’s plight a few weeks ago. Citing poor communication, they were unable to do any recruiting within the Dolphins’ organization as the time for students to get certified for lifeguard duty had passed. “Our frustration is that this is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Smith said. “This was a completely solvable issue. It is not like the equipment isn’t in good shape.” Typically, lifeguard certification takes at least four weeks. This was the latest hit against a hometown summer for East Liverpool children, which already is mourning the loss in 2021 of the Pegasus Track Club and Tri-State Pottery Festival. In East Liverpool, affordable family entertainment within the city are often the only change for summer activities that many of these kids will experience due to transportation issues. In fact, a program, where students in grades six to eight, receive pool passes for themselves and their family members won’t happen this year due to the pool not opening. “The future is what we are concentrating on now,” explained Jim Swoger. “If they find someone, Amy and I will help them best we can.” Amy Swoger agreed, expressing disappointment seeing the pool unable to open in 2021. “Everyone does try to work together, and this is the only thing that many kids get to do in the summer. After doing this for 17 years, this is so disappointing,” she said. Anyone interested in a position with J. Burchfield Cartwright municipal pool should call the mayor’s office at 330-385-3381. side bar 1 What are the requirements to be a lifeguard in Ohio - Minimum age of 15 - Ability to swim 300 yards continuously using the breast stroke or freestyle. - Ability to tread water for two minutes using only the legs. - Complete a timed event (within one minute + 40 seconds). Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. Surface dive to a depth of 7’ to 10’ to retrieve a 10-lb. object. Return to surface and swim 20 yards on the back to return to the starting point. - Exit the water without using a ladder or steps. - A two-year certification side bar 2 Nearby American Red Cross classes LIFEGUARDING - (BASIC) BL - 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (online + classroom) - This two-day class provides entry-level participants the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and provide care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until EMS personnel take over. Certificate is valid for two years …. $300 (Available dates include Saturday, May 15 and Sunday, May 16; and Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13 in Sewickley, Pa.) LIFEGUARD MANAGEMENT (online) - course is designed to prepare aquatic professionals to effectively manage lifeguards and help to keep patrons, staff and facilities safe. This highly interactive, 3.5-hour class is designed with people who have lifeguarding background but may manage seasonal or year round operations. Certificate is valid for two years …. $120 SOURCE: www.redcross.org

EAST LIVERPOOL — The only ripple felt in the East Liverpool area may stem from an announcement that city officials are unable to open the municipal pool due to lifeguard shortages. However, this is not just a problem here.

Last month, Steubenville encountered the same issue, citing the shortage of lifeguards to the inability for them to re-certify amid the pandemic. Signs in front of Tomlinson Park also decry the search for certified lifeguards.

Longtime J. Burchfield Cartwright pool caretakers Jim and Amy Swoger explained that it appears to be too late for a lifeline now, as normally they start preparing two months for the big opening day on June 1. For almost two decades, the Swogers have overseen J. Burchfield Cartwright pool, which was constructed in 1939 as part of the New Deal by the Works Progress Association and is now home to the Dolphins’ swim team.

Generally an average of 150 to 200 people stop by East Liverpool’s municipal pool in the afternoons, seven days a week in June through mid-August. There, families find access to a 385,000-gallon, state-of-the-art pool that is even larger than Olympic-sized; a separate wading pool for small children and a concession stand that even managed to attract swimmers last year with their pandemic protocol.

The municipal pool would need one lifeguard for every 25 people, and they only have three potential certified candidates.

Last year, the Swogers had announced their retirement from the pool business to give the city ample time to find a replacement for them, promising to assist their successor. However, no one else apparently has stepped forward to run the pool operations, which actually falls under the city’s oversight instead of Thompson Park board of commissioners.

It is a bit of a Groundhog Day moment for Swoger, a former city mayor who said that he stepped forward in 2003 when council wanted to pull the plug on the pool. Since then, he, his bride and other volunteers have been committed to making sure the pool was open and available to area families.

Members of the swim team’s inner circle expressed frustration that they were unable to help before it was too late.

For both Ashley Cunningham and Bill Smith, they just learned about the pool’s plight a few weeks ago. Citing poor communication, they were unable to do any recruiting within the Dolphins’ organization as the time for students to get certified for lifeguard duty had passed.

“Our frustration is that this is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Smith said. “This was a completely solvable issue. It is not like the equipment isn’t in good shape.”

Typically, lifeguard certification takes at least four weeks.

This was the latest hit against a hometown summer for East Liverpool children, which already is mourning the loss in 2021 of the Pegasus Track Club and Tri-State Pottery Festival.

In East Liverpool, affordable family entertainment within the city are often the only change for summer activities that many of these kids will experience due to transportation issues. In fact, a program, where students in grades six to eight, receive pool passes for themselves and their family members won’t happen this year due to the pool not opening.

“The future is what we are concentrating on now,” explained Jim Swoger. “If they find someone, Amy and I will help them best we can.”

Amy Swoger agreed, expressing disappointment seeing the pool unable to open in 2021.

“Everyone does try to work together, and this is the only thing that many kids get to do in the summer. After doing this for 17 years, this is so disappointing,” she said.

Anyone interested in a position with J. Burchfield Cartwright municipal pool should call the mayor’s office at 330-385-3381.

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