To the editor:
Because Lawrence has one of the outstanding aquatics programs in Kansas, I’m writing to correct a few comments that have been raised in other letters.
The issue of pre-Labor Day closure of outdoor pools due to the lack of qualified lifeguards is one that community pools face throughout the country. The availability of lifeguards diminishes in mid-August, which reduces the ability of the pool staff to provide a safe environment.
The indoor and outdoor pools in Lawrence require 14 lifeguards each to provide adequate supervision. I’ve spoken with many of the aquatic professionals in Kansas, and these issues are not unique to Lawrence. The good news is that Lawrence has an outstanding Indoor Aquatic Center that is open after the outdoor pool closes. It offers lap lanes, diving boards, water slides and a zero-depth family pool.
In terms of hours of operation, the Outdoor Aquatic Center is open for lessons in the morning until 12:45 p.m. The policy allows the aquatics division to provide over 2,500 children swim lessons annually, which is vital to a healthy community.
The lack of lifeguards after the start of school is one that impacts most public and private aquatic facilities. Many of the guards are students who depart when school starts. As someone who works closely with those who operate aquatic facilities throughout the state, I feel comfortable in expressing my opinion that Lawrence offers one of the best public pool programs available in Kansas.