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Lifeguards ready to start at City pool

By Beth Cox
Sports Writer

Thanks to a great partnership between Mountain City and the Hometown Service Coalition, the city pool will soon be up and running for everyone to enjoy.
The pool was ready, but no lifeguards were available. The city was in quite the conundrum as to what resources were available.
The Hometown Coalition made it possible by agreeing to pay the city the cost of certifying the lifeguards needed to open the pool. After several calls, the Harry L. Coomes Recreation Center in Abingdon agreed to assist in training the chosen applicants.
The applicants were trained, received their certification, and are now eager to get started. Taylor Cox enjoyed the training but quickly added the challenges that were involved.
“The trainer at the Coomes Center was great,” Cox said. “The course was challenging and exciting at the same time, but I’m ready to begin my job as a lifeguard.” Preston Greer is the veteran lifeguard but also had to be re-certified.
“It feels good to actually have the pool open, and I’m excited to get the lifeguard experience again,” Greer said.
City Manager Sheila Shaw was appreciative to all who had their hand in opening the pool.
“We are grateful for the Coomes Center for allowing us to train at their facility and the Hometown Coalition for providing the funds for the certification,” she said. “We, like other cities nationwide, were facing a shortage of certified lifeguards. Thanks to many who helped make this happen.”
The newest certified lifeguards are Greer, Cox, Ryleigh Icenhour, Myleah Johnson, Zack Parsons, and Ayden Fallon.
The City Council was scheduled to meet Tuesday night to discuss and approve the opening date of the pool.
For the last two years, Mountain City has not been able to enjoy the community pool.
In 2020 the pool was closed due to COVID-19. Last year the pool was under repair and was once again closed. As for the shortage of lifeguards, according to the American Lifeguard Association, one-third of U.S. swimming pools are experiencing significant lifeguard shortages. Many have had to reduce hours or simply close for the season. The ALA spokesperson said the shortage is due to the pandemic. “Because of the pandemic, people who did find other jobs that would normally come back to lifeguarding stayed with those jobs,” said spokesman Wyatt Wernth. He added training was also a reason. Many were not able
to get the certifications renewed because many places were closed due to the pandemic.