Mar 15, 2022 - News

Lifeguard shortage leads to Barton Springs closures

An aerial view of Barton Springs Pool

An aerial view of Barton Springs Pool. Photo: Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK

In the latest ripple effect of the pandemic, Barton Springs Pool will be closed indefinitely for most of Mondays and Wednesdays.

Driving the news: The city doesn't have enough certified open-water lifeguards to operate the pool.

Why it matters: Who among us has not cooled off at the storied pool as temps rise to scorching levels?

Between the lines: In response to the pandemic, the city's aquatic division ceased training lifeguards during spring break of 2020.

  • Training resumed in spring 2021, but the staffing deficit has been difficult to overcome.
  • Currently, Austin has 23 certified open-water guards on staff — and requires as many as 75 during the summer.

What they're saying: "The pandemic definitely changed the game," aquatics division manager Jodi Jay told Axios.

Flashback: Austin has about 100 lifeguards on staff — but needs around 650 to open summer pools for the 2022 swim season, which starts June 3.

Of note: The Monday and Wednesday closures, which start next week, will not affect the 5am-8am swim times, which remain on "swim at your own risk" status.

  • The pool will also be closed during the regular Thursday cleaning from 8am-7pm.

What's next: The city is hosting lifeguard hiring fairs Wednesday and Friday afternoons this week.

  • Pay starts at $15 per hour, and lifeguards must be at least 15 years old.
  • The city is offering a $500 bonus to lifeguards who work through the entire summer.
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