Jun 11, 2021 - Sports

Denver-area lifeguard shortage leads to shorter pool hours

A woman in a lifeguard t-shirt watches a pool

A lifeguard at a public pool in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

As temperatures rise and pools and lakes open up, cities in the Denver metro area and throughout Colorado are reporting shortages in lifeguards.

The big picture: It's a national issue striking summer hotspots in states across America, including in Minneapolis and Iowa, our Axios Local colleagues report.

What's happening: Pandemic-related closures at aquatic centers led to a slowdown in the training of new lifeguards, and the backlog comes as many summer-oriented businesses are forced to compete for workers.

  • The dearth is causing some pools to restrict their hours and delay their opening dates.

State of play: In Aurora, city officials are trying to fill about 100 lifeguard vacancies and have had to close one of their pools on the weekends, Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department spokesperson Erin Pulliam tells Alayna.

  • In Boulder, pool hours have been limited for the foreseeable future, with only about 60% of its seasonal positions filled, the Daily Camera reports.
  • In Colorado Springs, the city needs roughly 120 more people to man its pools and has cut hours at indoor locations to make do, per Fox21.
  • Loveland is searching for 30 lifeguards and has delayed the opening of Lake Loveland until the end of the month, Denver7 reports.

Yes, but: Not every city is experiencing a lack of lifeguards, including Denver β€” though the city is short about 30 Parks and Rec workers, Parks and Recreation spokesperson Cyndi Karvaski told Axios.

  • In fact, the city opened eight outdoor pools this week and plans to open three more next week.
  • Grand Junction also isn't experiencing a shortage, because it was able to retain most of its lifeguards during the pandemic by redeploying them to other park jobs, city spokesperson Ken Sherbenou said.

Of note: Many employers are offering better pay and perks to attract summer employees in the face of a nationwide shortage of hospitality and restaurant workers.

Our editor Hadley's thought bubble: Take it from someone who lifeguarded during summers in college: it's a great gig. Aside from learning valuable, literally life-saving skills, you get paid to be outside by a pool all summer.


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