Her sister, Jessica, is a lifeguard at the YWCA.
Allison evidently was an old-fashioned kid. Growing up, she spent nearly every waking hour at the pool at the former Kanawha Country Club.
Her first lifeguard job was at Highlawn Swim Club in St. Albans when she was 16. The next summer she signed on with Charleston because it paid more.
The city now pays $8 an hour even though the minimum wage is only $7.25. Charnock has to compete with private pools, where the work is a little easier.
Several years ago, as attendance sagged, the city boldly decided to stop charging admission.
"We saw a big jump," Charnock said. "That's because it's free."
Though attendance has stabilized, pool crowds can be difficult to manage.
The city has a rule that children under 10 are to be accompanied by an adult, but it's hard to enforce. Some parents just "drop and run," Charnock said.
Allison seems to take it in stride. "I love kids in general," she said.
She tries to establish a rapport with her charges, going so far as to treat them to snacks or lunches if she senses a need.
Several times, she's had to jump in and rescue a child. It always gives her an adrenaline jolt, but she's never had to deal with a serious injury or perform CPR. Usually the child is shaken up and crying, and she moves quickly to find the parent or guardian.
Meantime, Hutchinson said the county has no plans to drop admission fees. He thinks county pools attract people who may want to avoid the sometimes-chaotic free-admission crowd.
While Charleston City Council again may debate free admission as budgets get tighter, so far the consensus has been to view the pools as a service for people, especially children, who can't afford to join private clubs.
Of course, that means city taxpayers with no interest in swimming bear the total cost. Charnock puts that at roughly $150,000 a season.
Hutchison says the county breaks even on the Coonskin pool. But the concession stand, not admission, is the real moneymaker.
"Pools are a huge liability and very expensive to operate," he said. "If you break even, that's a big-time win."
Friend, editor and publisher of the Daily Mail, can be reached at nan...@dailymail.com or 304-348-5124.
The city is offering a training class for prospective lifeguards at the Kanawha City Community Center starting Tuesday. Only five people had registered as of Thursday, though class capacity is 15. The cost is $140 and the minimum age is 15. Call the center at 304-348-6484 Tuesday morning for more information.