May 25, 2023 - News

Lifeguard hiring spree opens more Indianapolis pools

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

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It will be easier to find an open pool in Indianapolis this summer after a monthslong marketing and recruiting blitz has beefed up the city's parks staff.

Zoom in: Indianapolis is paying $15 an hour — same rate as last year — and adding signing bonuses up to $500 to attract lifeguards.

State of play: The incentives are working.

  • Indianapolis has 170 lifeguards on staff, up from 81 a year ago.
  • The city will open nine pools across its parks system this weekend and one more next weekend, up from six last year.

Details: The pools opening Saturday are Broad Ripple, Brookside, Frederick Douglass, Garfield, Indy Island Aquatic Center, Perry, Rhodius, Riverside and Thatcher.

  • The Gustafson Park pool opens June 3.
  • Indianapolis has 19 pools, several of which are closed due to construction or maintenance issues and might open later.

The big picture: Indianapolis is trying to solve a national lifeguard shortage that has left pools shuttered from Philadelphia to Seattle, limiting options for families to cool off.

Between the lines: The weird pandemic economy has increased demand for workers, causing salaries to rise and making it harder for cities to fill lower-paying jobs ranging from trash collectors to snow plowers.

What they're saying: "A parks recruitment committee went out (to) high schools, went to job fairs, visited churches, so it really had a big effort behind it," Indianapolis parks director Phyllis Boyd told reporters Wednesday.

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