Major swim and lifeguard teacher looks to build Concord pool facility

Monitor staff
Published: 5/2/2019 6:26:00 PM
Modified: 5/2/2019 6:25:49 PM

For more than 20 years, Karen Jenovese has floated from pool to pool across the state, teaching New Hampshire children how to swim and become a trained lifeguard.

Her business, Swim NH, is one of the few – if only – independent businesses providing American Red Cross-certified lifeguard training. She estimates her staff teaches swimming to 200 to 400 kids a week out of Concord’s racquetball club and 600 lifeguards and water safety instructors a year.

In addition, Swim NH travels to Manchester, Salem and other locations to teach and train municipal staff and at summer camps.

Now, Jenovese is hoping to build her own training facility in Concord as a home base.

The swim guru went before Concord’s zoning board Wednesday night with an application to build a 48-foot-by-166-foot addition to 41 Hall St. That addition would include a 16-foot-by-75-foot pool with two lanes to teach swimming, water safety and lifeguard courses. The pool would be four to seven feet deep.

To make that happen, Jenovese needed setback variances on all four sides of the property and a parking variance for 15 spaces where 35 would normally be required. Those variances were granted Wednesday night, and the application now moves to the Planning Board.

I’ve been doing this for a long time,” Jenovese, who grew up in Concord and swam competitively for Plymouth State University, said Wednesday night. “It’s time to have a home.”

Jenovese said renting makes her beholden to a facility’s available space, the conditions of their facilities and rental rates.

If the Concord pool is approved, Jenovese said she still plans to offer remote training services. But having her own space will allow her to have more flexible scheduling and to offer a slightly warmer-than-usual pool at 86 degrees, which she said is more comfortable for young swimmers.

“Most of the kids we teach are very young,” she said. “Our goal is for them to be independent swimmers.”

Her classes usually clock in around 10 students, and Swim NH has nine year-round staff, four of whom are part-time. In the summer, that staff swells to 20 people.

Because of her reach, Jenovese saw the struggle many communities had to fill lifeguard positions last year.

That summer, many municipalities reported difficulties in finding enough candidates to adequately staff their pools during the summer.

But after decades as a swim teacher, Jenovese said the problem comes in waves. The trick is finding lifeguards in their sophomore or junior year of high school and holding onto them throughout college. She said she tries to connect trainees with local swim programs whenever possible.

“I think this summer will be a good summer,” she said.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)

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