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City of Victoria needs 9 lifeguards by Wednesday to open pool on time

By Jessica Priest
May 26, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.
Updated May 27, 2013 at 12:27 a.m.

Connor Rhoden, 15, left, and Nick Mantey, 15, take turns learning how to properly give life-saving breaths with a CPR dummy during an American Red Cross lifeguard class Thursday at the YMCA of the Golden Crescent. Students learned the proper way to care for a victim that was not breathing properly while waiting for EMS to arrive.

Adrenaline pumped through Rachel Hamon's veins last summer when she jumped into a subdivision pool to rescue two children, ages 8 and 10, who were bobbing and distressed in about 11 feet of water.

"I knew I had to get over there as quick as I could," said Hamon, an 18-year-old lifeguard and graduating West High School senior. "The dad came up to me at the end and was so grateful for what I had done because he had left for just a split second and that had happened."

Hamon was at the Golden Crescent YMCA on Thursday because she likes that feeling; she likes helping strangers.

Hamon and 11 other lifeguard hopefuls were learning CPR, simulating how they would need to respond if a baby ever lost consciousness, among other things.

The city of Victoria is in need of some of them to apply to work at the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool, a 33-year-old facility that the Parks and Recreation department informed city council members recently is starting to look its age.

The city has been trying to lure teens for months with both a $7.75 per hour pay rate and a $130 reimbursement for the certification course if they remain employed all season.

The city needs to hire at least nine more lifeguards by Wednesday in order to open the pool by June 5.

Adding "lifeguard" to one's resume is impressive but not something everyone is cut out for, which may be why fewer people seem interested in the position, said Andrea Blomberg, the city's recreation services manager.

"You have to be a confident and competent swimmer to do this job, and that scares some kids - that scares some adults," she said.

Blomberg also guessed that more places are growing their own workforce by offering training on-site, something the city could not do this year because of scheduling conflicts.

The YMCA Hamon visited is one such place.

It has an indoor pool that is open year-round at the Nimitz Street location, employing nine lifeguards.

The YMCA also has outdoor pools in Port Lavaca, which employs up to 12 lifeguards, and in Edna, which employs nine lifeguards.

The Edna pool opens June 1, and help is still needed there, said Amanda Howe, the YMCA's youth sports and aquatics director.

Howe said there is turnover as kids head off to college. They also would rather stay out of the heat and work at a mall with less responsibility looming over them.

Fourty eight have enrolled in the YMCA's certification classes so far, but those classes, which used to be offered 10 times, have scaled back to six because of a lower demand.

Hamon, meanwhile, has earned a little more than $8 an hour working for the Northcrest subdivision pool for the past three years and doesn't really have any reason to leave this year.

"It's not that it's new. I just know a lot of the kids that go over there," she said.

One parent is not too concerned about the pool opening.

Stephanie Brett, 34, of Victoria, has never been to Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool. She normally visits Splashway in Sheridan because it has areas specifically catered for her 3-year-old daughter, McKenzie.

"It's not just confined to one spot. There's slides and different things to do," Brett said, adding McKenzie loves the wave pool.

Another parent, Jasper Peno, 47, is a little concerned about the opening. He won raffle tickets from the O'Connor Elementary School PTA that guaranteed he and his friends would have the Gary T. Moses Municipal Pool for a three-hour private party June 5.

"But I'm not too concerned because I don't have a lot invested in it," said Peno, an H-E-B Plus! worker.



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