Charlottesville is having trouble staffing its pools for the summer, and that means limited pool hours.
As of last Wednesday, the only public indoor pool in Charlottesville will now close midday due to a lack of lifeguards, Deputy Director of Charlottesville Parks & Recreation’s Parks Division Riann Anthony told The Daily Progress.
Smith Aquatic & Fitness Center lap and recreational pool will close between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 pm. on Fridays. The indoor pool will still be open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Thursday while closing at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
“One of our strategies is always to go back to our normal schedule,” Anthony said Thursday. “That is why the city has changed the hiring rate for lifeguards. We used to be $15 an hour. Now, we pushed it up to $17.50 an hour. … We have just increased that rate so we do not affect the city of Charlottesville when it comes to outdoor swimming and indoor swimming for the summer.”
Compare that to the Brooks Family YMCA on McIntire Park Drive, which pays its part-time lifeguards $14 to $15 an hour, according to the organization’s website.
Although the city currently employs about 25 lifeguards, most are 15 and 16 years old and therefore still in school. Charlottesville and Albemarle high school students’ last day of classes is on June 9. according to the district websites. Even though midday during the week is often the “dead period” at the pool, the students’ unavailability makes it more difficult to keep the pool open.
While the goal is to reopen the pool during its usual hours, Parks & Rec will not know whether that is possible until after the students get out of school for summer break.
Anthony said, at the moment, Charlottesville’s public outdoor swimming pools at Onesty Family Aquatic Center and Washington Park will maintain regular hours between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. with a full lifeguard staff throughout the summer.
The updated hours at the Smith Aquatic Fitness Center will not affect the cost of the pool’s daily admissions passes, which are free for children ages three and under and $2 and up for other guests.