"As soon as we got here I noticed there weren't lifeguards here, and that really surprised me," Tara Blocher of Tyrone said.
State park officials said they began what they call an "open swim" policy in 1998 where lifeguards work only certain days of the week. This year there are no lifeguards on duty. They said this enables folks to enjoy swimming in the lake on their own schedule.
"Last year they had open swimming, no lifeguards, two days a week, and this is an expansion where there's no lifeguards at all," State Park Regional Manager Gary Smith said.
Parents we spoke with think lifeguards are necessary for summer safety, especially with a latest national report on drowning. The report stated more than 800 children die each year from drowning, and more than 3,500 kids suffer near drowning related injuries. Source: 2007 Safe Kids Worldwide Report (http://www.usa.safekids.org_documents/2007_Fact_Sheet_Drowning.doc). The study also showed that having lifeguards could make a difference. It said children are five times more likely to drown when there are no lifeguards on duty.
Even though parents said they are responsible and watch their children swim, they would feel safer having a professional lifeguard there in case something goes wrong.
"Lifeguards have CPR certification where most parents don't have any clue of how to do it,” Jessica Becker of
As state parks fill up this summer, another way to stay safe is to know your swimming abilities before you step in the water.
"Know your abilities,” said Smith. “A good discussion to have before the day begins is what to watch out for."
State park officials said lifeguards will still be on duty at park pools.