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Swimmers prepare to make splash into EL pool

J. Burchfield Cartwright pool opens for 2021 season

Darshay Foster leans near a lifeguard chair by J. Burchfield Cartwright Pool Sunday afternoon, as volunteers put the final touches on pool before its big 2021 opening day Monday. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

EAST LIVERPOOL – City officials announced last week that the J. Burchfield Cartwright pool will admit the facility’s first swimmers this year Monday, after pulling out a last minute recruiting push for lifeguards.

About a month ago, officials were skeptical that they could pull out a season for the pool, which is located in Thompson Park, as they were struggling to get certified lifeguards. An appeal to the public made all the difference.

For the past two decades, pool caretakers Jim and Amy Swoger opened for business on June 1; however, two weeks later, volunteers and the Dolphin swim team pulled out a swim season this year.

Shane Foster, team swim coach, explained that all 10 lifeguards successfully were certified Friday. “It is all about everyone coming together,” he added.

Employment shortages, especially for certified positions like lifeguards, have been abundant in the post-pandemic society between quarantines and protocols and increased unemployment compensation opportunities that just recently ran out in Ohio.

Generally an average of 150 to 200 people stop by East Liverpool’s municipal pool in the afternoons, seven days a week in June through mid-August. There, families find access to a 385,000-gallon, state-of-the-art pool that is even larger than Olympic-sized; a separate wading pool for small children and a concession stand that even managed to attract swimmers last year with their pandemic protocol.

The municipal pool needs to employ one lifeguard for every 25 people.

Jim Swoger, who served as the city’s mayor many years ago, was on hand with Jeff Cartwright-Smith and Foster, as volunteers readied the pool area, pulling benches, loungers and the diving board out of storage for Monday’s big opening day

The pool is open between 1 and 7 p.m. daily.

Admission is $3 for students and $4 for adults. There currently are no family passes or concessions available.

Dolphin swim team practices begin on June 21, according to the team’s social media presence. Mayor Greg Bricker expressed relief that the municipal pool would be open for area residents after all. “Without the help of Jim and Amy Swoger, Jeff Cartwright-Smith and Shane Jones (who is the pool manager), the pool wouldn’t have opened this year. Hats off to them for making this happen.”

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