Watching lives

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

A lifeguard watches from the back as women partake in water aerobics during an August 2019 class at the Wharton Swimming Pool. Instructor Byrd Salazar said this year would have marked 10 consecutive years that aerobics was being taught in Wharton.

The 2020 swimming season has been cancelled due to the continuing coronavirus crisis. The unanimous decision was made by the Wharton City Council during a meeting earlier this month.

The number of lifeguards who turned in an application to work at the swimming pool was all that elected officials had to see to make their decision.

According to a memorandum dated April 9 from Finance Director Joan Andel, it read that only two lifeguards and a pool manager applied for employment.

Andel said that Civic Center Manager Makyla Monroe ran an employment ad in the local newspaper and used social media to try to recruit lifeguards, but has been unsuccessful. 

The pool needs approximately 12 lifeguards a season to operate for a two-month period, Andel added.

“Under the current situation of COVID-19 and the unavailability of lifeguards, I am recommending that the pool not be opened this season,” Andel said in the memorandum.

This also includes the Wharton Swim Team, which would have used the pool for its practices various days from April 29 through May 29 and again June 2 through July 31. A team representative and the City of Wharton had signed an agreement March 8 before the coronavirus crisis began.

Another person affected is Byrd Salazar, who has put on water aerobics at the pool. She was disappointed to hear that the pool is closed. At least a dozen participants would join Salazar when she would schedule the aerobics classes during the summer.   Lifeguards were also on duty during the exercises that have been held for more than 10 consecutive years. 

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