Starting July 12, City of Ocala will reduce swimming pool hours due to lifeguard shortage

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Starting July 12, due to a lifeguard shortage, hours at the City of Ocala aquatic fun centers will be reduced so the city can meet state safety guidelines.

City officials said they have had difficulties filling spots for summer lifeguards, despite offering competitive pay.

Officials said if the situation improves, then the hours will be adjusted.

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The Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center, 2390 SW 36th Ave., and the Hampton Aquatic Fun Center, 255 NW Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., will alternate operating days, city officials said.

Lifeguard Devyn Waters keeps an eye on swimmers on June 28 at the Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center in Ocala.
Lifeguard Devyn Waters keeps an eye on swimmers on June 28 at the Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center in Ocala.

According to a city news release, here is the upcoming schedule:

Hampton Aquatic Fun Center

  • Wednesday, July 13 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 15 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Tuesday, July 19 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 21 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 23 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Wednesday July 27 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 29 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 30 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. (if staffing is adequate)

Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center

  • Tuesday, July 12 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 14 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 16 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Wednesday, July 20 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Friday, July 22 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Tuesday, July 26 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Thursday, July 28 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

  • Saturday, July 30 – 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. *

“Unfortunately, this has been a trend over the last several years, even before COVID-19,” Ocala Recreation and Parks Director Preston Pooser said in the release. “We have experienced increased challenges in recruitment and retention of summer lifeguards. We begin the annual recruitment process as early as February and offer highly competitive pay. However, only 60% of our positions were filled this summer.

Kyleigh Jannasch, 8, exits the slide on June 28 at the Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center in Ocala.
Kyleigh Jannasch, 8, exits the slide on June 28 at the Jervey Gantt Aquatic Fun Center in Ocala.

“We must follow stringent state safety guidelines that include a 25 to 1 swimmer to lifeguard ratio," he continued. "Due to attrition and limited availability of lifeguards to work through the remainder of the summer sessions, we are currently unable to safely staff both pools simultaneously."

For more information, visit www.ocalafl.org/aquatics or call the City of Ocala Recreation and Parks Department at 352-368-5517.

Contact Austin L. Miller at austin.miller@starbanner.com.

This article originally appeared on Ocala Star-Banner: Lifeguard shortage in Ocala, Florida means reduced hours at city pools