Training the Next Generation of Pool Managers

By: Joey LaNeve, Aquatics Supervisor, Town of Queen Creek, AZ


As the aquatic industry recovers from the worst of the national lifeguard shortage, many organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to find motivated staff to move into leadership positions. Staff that are promoted into leadership positions such as “Head Guard” or “Pool Manager” are often young, relatively inexperienced, and not interested in sticking around for more than a season or two. Training new leadership teams takes a lot of time and effort on an operator’s part, and this article details some tips and tricks to ensure you are setting your new facility leadership up for success. 


  1. Establish Clear Expectations

During the recruiting and hiring process, it is important to establish clear expectations for aspiring pool managers. Outline the roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations associated with the position. Emphasize the importance of professionalism, accountability, and effective communication skills.


  1. Provide MAHC-Compliant Training

Provide a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of pool management. Lifeguard Supervisor training is actually outlined in the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC) as including at minimum (See MAHC for more details): 

  • Activation and execution of Emergency Action Plans
  • Hands on CPR and AED training
  • Scanning and vigilance requirements and how to ensure that systems which accomplish these goals are in place and operational
  • Development and evaluations of zones of surveillance
  • How to monitor lifeguard performance
  • Risk management for the safety of both patrons and staff
  • Knowledge of the legal issues related to lifeguarding
  • Knowledge and proper use and maintenance of equipment. 


These MAHC guidelines are a great start, but it is also important to tailor the training to your facility and any specific challenges your organization faces on a regular basis. 


  1. Hands-On Experience

Provide young lifeguards with opportunities for hands-on experience in various aspects of pool management. Allow them to shadow experienced pool managers, assist with administrative tasks and participate in the decision making process where feasible. This increases buy-in among lifeguards and helps to encourage team members to want to move into leadership positions because it will seem less daunting and more familiar to them. 


  1. Mentorship Program

Implement a mentorship program pairing aspiring pool managers with seasoned leaders. Mentors can provide guidance, support, and constructive feedback as young team members navigate their transition into management roles. Encourage open communication and regular check-ins to assess progress and address any challenges.


  1. Continuous Learning

Promote a culture of continuous learning and professional development within your team. Advocate for young managers to participate in your organization’s professional development training if that exists. If it is in your budget, provide leaders with memberships to professional organizations, either locally or nationally so that they can take advantage of the networking benefits. Organizations like AOAP often offer organizational membership options that significantly reduce the per person cost of membership. 


  1. Evaluate Performance

Conduct regular performance evaluations to assess the progress of team members in their journey towards becoming effective managers. Provide constructive feedback and identify areas for improvement. Recognize and celebrate achievements to motivate and inspire continued growth.


Training young lifeguards and other team members to become leaders within your organization is a rewarding endeavor that requires dedication, and patience. By using these tips and investing in training programs, operators can nurture the next generation of leaders in the field of aquatic management. 

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Juliene Hefter

Juliene is the Executive Director/CEO of AOAP. She has a background in running and operating diverse aquatic facilities and venues and is a national and international speaker on a variety of topics. She is also an expert witness/consultant.

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