Excitement surrounds the Koret pool as it’s getting ready to open again on Feb.14. Koret users have had to adjust to a pool without water—but, at least, they didn’t lose their jobs. Indeed, swimmers and avid gym-goers are not the only ones who have been affected by the pool closing. Lifeguards have had to take their business elsewhere, since their lifeguard chairs were swapped out for sky-high scaffolds.
Although they’ve had to uproot, the show must go on. One lifeguard who has made it work is sophomore nursing student Matt Lucchio, who has been a lifeguard for 13 years. Lucchio said he was “bummed” about the closing, not only because he enjoys swimming, but because coming in early had another benefit. “It was a good way to find parking.”
Without the pool, Lucchio said he has stayed active by surfing more and by staying employed by lifeguarding off-campus at the Rossi Community Pool. Luckily, his job as a lifeguard for the city allows him to guard at other pools, though he still misses Koret. “I love Koret because the hours were six-to-nine. Other pools are only open for an hour or two,” he said.
Koret’s pool re-opening next week will be great news for both Lucchio and the patrons who have followed his footsteps to Rossi’s swim pool. While the closing was a shock to many, for someone like Lucchio who participates in Alcatraz swim races, it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
As for other pool staff, Koret’s closing brought a long, unwanted break from work. Junior media studies major Allison Fazio has been a lifeguard at Koret since her first semester of sophomore year, and pool construction has brought a complete halt to her lifeguarding days. Fazio, who worked four to five days a week, was shocked when she first heard the news of the construction. “I didn’t believe it at first! We found out, like officially, just a month or so before the pool actually closed so I had to find a new job, stat,” she said. “In the end, it wasn’t that bad.”
Like Lucchio, Fazio found her own way to deal with the construction interruption. “It closed down before Thanksgiving break so I used my extra time to study for finals and enjoy the city a little more.”
U.S. history major Marisa Lennon, another student lifeguard, welcomed her time off with open arms. She shared her point of view on the opposite end of the spectrum: “The pool closing has not affected me that much besides being a great excuse not to work.” While Lennon, who has worked at Koret for her entire enrollment at USF, appreciates the paychecks, she also said that working as a lifeguard at Koret can become very monotonous. “[You’re] just staring at a pool, and I think many of the lifeguards would agree with me that the closing was a welcomed break – this job can drive you crazy,” she said.
Like Fazio, Lennon used her time off to relax and has not looked for another job. “I usually come back and work during intersession because there are a lot of hours, but this break I stayed in Connecticut with my parents,” she said. Lennon did not mention missing out on swimming as her biggest adjustment. Instead she said: “I guess my biggest challenge was being dependent.”
While an unexpected break in work is undeniably an adjustment for anyone, Lucchio, Fazio, and Lennon have all found their own ways to deal with it. For Fazio and Lennon, the Valentines Day re-opening of the Koret pool means finally being able to swim after months on dry land, and for Lucchio, getting back into the Koret lifeguarding routine means having a reason to get to USF early to win the parking battle. From participating in swims to Alcatraz, to going back east to visit family or simply taking the time to explore the ity, these students made sure their time off was far from the monotony that can sometimes come from sitting up in the lifeguard chair.