Some Austin pools still closed on first day of summer due to lack of lifeguards

The Springwoods Pool in North Austin sure looks inviting on a blazing hot summer afternoon, cascading water, a water slide. But bad news: it's closed.   

"We walked over there and I was like 'let's go see what time they're open,'" said Esmeralda Guerrero who lives down the street.

Guerrero found out it was closed the hard way. She and her son were all ready for a swim and saw the sign.

"I was going to go back and get the phone number, I just...I never got around to it.  I have a little sprinkler thing for my son to play in but that's not helping me," she joked.

Austin Parks and Rec Assistant Director Kimberley Mcneeley says the lifeguard shortage is a problem they've had over the last several years and it seems to be happening nationwide.

"We need approximately 500 individuals to adequately run our lifeguarding and as of Friday we had about 433 lifegaurds," Mcneeley said.

Mcneeley says because of the shortage they can't staff all the pools.  So some pools have alternate schedules, some are only open for special programming...4 city pools, including Springwoods are closed.

Mcneeley says City Council recently approved raising lifegaurd pay to a minimum of $13.03 an hour.  That's not all they've done to recruit.

"We had a partnership with AISD and the YMCA to offer lifeguarding as a P.E. program and a credit.  We've offered $100 bonuses for individuals who've signed up to be with the department early," she said.

I broke the news to Guerrero her pool is closed because there aren't enough lifegaurds to go around.

"That kind of almost makes me want to become a lifeguard just so I could just go over there," she said.  "The kids that I see now, they don't want responsibility. They want everything handed to them.  They are an entitlement generation."

Mcneeley says they have a graduating class every week. She says there were around 50 last week and they expect the same this week.

"Just simply doing the math, that would put us to the number that we would probably need to get all the swimming pools open," she said.

If you would like to apply to be a lifeguard, head to www.lifeguardaustin.com

 

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