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Desperate plea . . . Waitaki Aquatic Centre manager Matthew Lanyon says the pool's staff shortage is affecting service levels. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

The Waitaki Aquatic Centre is in dire need of more staff.

The pool requires 12 swim school staff members, but is operating with only seven at present.

It is a similar story with lifeguards.

The centre has only 10 lifeguards and needs up to four more.

Oamaru Swim Club coach Narcis Gherca had also recently left to take up an “incredible opportunity” in Cambridge.

As a result of staffing shortages, the number of preschool, parent and children and after school classes is being reduced.

Waitaki Aquatic Centre manager Matthew Lanyon said he wanted to offer classes every day and until this term the centre had been able to offer them six days a week.

But next term, it would be reduced to five days a week, Mr Lanyon said, “which is not what our customers want, based on previous demand, but unfortunately we can’t find the staff to go and deliver them”.

In the past 12 weeks, there had been three times when the pool was forced to close early as there was not enough staff to meet the safety requirements for keeping it open.

As far as Mr Lanyon was concerned, it was “three times too many”.

The lack of staff also affected other attractions at the pool, such as the inflatables, rope swings and slides.

It was disappointing to not be able to provide services to the community and it was hindering the facility, he said.

“Without lifeguards, we can’t offer a facility.”

The situation was not restricted to only the Waitaki Aquatic Centre.

Other facilities across the country were also struggling to recruit enough lifeguards and swim educators.

“It’s not something that’s unique to us.”

The centre had 50 staff members, but many were part-time and casual staff.

Mr Lanyon tried recruiting for the positions available but had received very few applications.

The centre would provide all the training required, through nationally recognised courses, he said.

Lifeguards needed to be aged 16 or over and they could gain NZQA credits through training and work.