Jun 21, 2022 - News

Lifeguard shortages keep metro Phoenix pools closed

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

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Lifeguard shortages in metro Phoenix are keeping some public pools closed this summer and limiting the availability of others.

Why it matters: Public pools provide swim lessons and a safe place for families to cool off during the summer.

Driving the news: This is the second year in a row with Valley pool closures as cities struggle to recruit and train lifeguards.

  • Young people, who have historically taken these jobs, have an abundance of other options as unemployment is at a historic low.
  • Training was also put on hold during the pandemic, resulting in fewer qualified lifeguards.
  • Phoenix offered a $2,500 bonus to lure new lifeguards, but still couldn't fill all the open positions. .

Details: 14 of Phoenix' 29 public pools are open this summer.

  • Glendale will stagger its pool openings, with Rose Lane Aquatics Center open until July 2 and Foothills Aquatics Center open July 5-July 30.

The concern: Bernard J. Fisher II, director of health and safety at the American Lifeguard Association, told Axios' Erin Doherty the shortage may mean a decline in swim lessons — as those instructors need to be lifeguard certified — leading to potentially deadly consequences.

  • "That means we're going to have increased drownings because one of the things that you want to do is learn how to swim as early as possible," he said.

Yes, but: If you can be flexible with your location and time, we found a handful of swim lesson openings in Phoenix.

  • We found openings at Harmon Pool, Paradise Valley Pool, Perry Pool, Roosevelt Pool and Sunnyslope Pool.

What to watch: Fisher said tapping into the retiree population — which is quite large in metro Phoenix — could help alleviate the lifeguard shortage in future years.


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