Charleston Parks and Recreation officials are busy getting five city pools ready for business, but the department needs something that maintenance crews can't deliver - lifeguards.
Only about 10 people have applied for lifeguard positions at city pools, said John Charnock, parks and recreation director. The department needs about 40 to staff the pools.
This has become a perennial problem in recent years.
"Back in the day, it seemed like everyone wanted to be a lifeguard," Charnock said. "But it doesn't seem like a popular thing nowadays."
Charnock encouraged anyone who is interested to fill out the application available on the city's website. Applications also can be picked up at the human resources office on the third floor of City Hall on Virginia Street downtown.
The applications should be turned in at the human resources office, Charnock said.
The number of lifeguards hired will determine whether all five pools can be opened this summer, he said.
The city runs pools at Cato Park as well as the King Community Center downtown, the Kanawha City Community Center, the North Charleston Community Center and Vandalia Park.
The pool at Cato Park on Charleston's West Side is the biggest and has the most use, Charnock said. The small Vandalia pool on a hillside close to the city's border with South Charleston border experiences the least use.
Vandalia likely would be the one to remain closed if his department cannot hire enough lifeguards to staff all five.
"Vandalia does need fewer lifeguards than the other pools," he said. "But we try to serve the most people that we can."
The North Charleston pool likely will be the first to open, Charnock said. It was closed all last summer for maintenance. Flooring had deteriorated to the point that the bathrooms and showers had to be closed.
However, repairs are complete, and the pool should open Memorial Day weekend.
"The hope is to open that pool on that weekend and then bring the rest of them online as we move forward," he said.
Charnock did not have numbers for how many people used individual city pools last year. Citywide, 30,000 to 40,000 swimmers used the pools.