Jan 20, 2023 - News

To stave off summer crisis, Austin seeks help from former lifeguards

Illustration of "Help Wanted" written at the bottom of a pool.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Austin officials want to hear from former lifeguards whose summer stints were career stepping stones.

The big picture: A new lifeguard survey is part of a strategy to stave off another potential summer lifeguard crisis.

Flashback: Some Austin public pools opened later than normal last summer — or were shuttered altogether — because of a lifeguard shortage.

By the numbers: Austin's Parks and Recreation Department aims to open all operational public pools this summer but cannot reach that goal unless the city can train and hire over 700 lifeguards.

  • Lifeguard training and hiring starts at age 15 and there is no age limit.
  • The city oversees 34 pools, including Barton Springs.

What they're asking: The new recruitment strategy aims to fold in stories from those who have sat in the elevated thrones.

  • The survey asks "Did the training, skills and experience that you got as a lifeguard help you with your career path?"
  • "What did you like about being a lifeguard?"

Last year, we asked readers about their own memories lifeguarding.

  • Catie H. wrote us to say lifeguarding taught her "how to manage in a crisis situation."

Between the lines: Austin recently raised its minimum wage to $20 per hour to keep up with the cost of living.

  • Lifeguards now get free training and a free uniform.
  • There is also a $400 lifeguard training stipend for staff who complete a certain number of work hours during the swim season.
  • Lifeguards also get a free CapMetro pass.

The bottom line: Yes, it's January, but it's never too early to get ahead of a potential summer calamity.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Austin stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Austin.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more