Beloit public pool opens mid-summer, as lifeguard shortage still causes uncertainty

In a late start this year, the City of Beloit’s public pool is open as of Friday, as city officials say they’re not immune to a nationwide lifeguard shortage.
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 6:22 PM CDT
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BELOIT, Wis. (WMTV) - In a late start this year, the City of Beloit’s public pool is open as of Friday, as city officials say they’re not immune to a nationwide lifeguard shortage.

Krueger Pool is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday during the last two weekends of July.

The struggle to hire lifeguards has reduced the schedule from seven days a week (pre-pandemic) to three days, according to Sarah Lock, a city spokesperson.

The shortage has also affected other parts of the pool. Lock said concessions, lap lanes and the diving well will not be available this weekend.

How long the season will last is also unclear. Lock said, it will be “determined on staffing levels.”

“The training opportunities did become a challenge during the pandemic, which the less people you have certified means that the surrounding communities are all going to be competitive for the limited pool of lifeguards,” Lock said.

About a third of public pools in the country have either closed or reduced hours due to the lifeguard shortage, according to the American Lifeguard Association.

Director of Health & Safety Bernard Fisher said there are 309,000 public pools in the country.

He explained, not as many pools were open during the pandemic, which led to fewer opportunities to train as a lifeguard. He added, lifeguard certifications only last 2 years and were largely wiped out by the pandemic.

The Stateline Family YMCA in Beloit also felt the challenge to hire, according to CEO Ann Hankins, though numbers are on the rebound. Currently staffing between 20 to 30 lifeguards, Hankins said the YMCA has worked up to the pre-pandemic level of up to 40 lifeguards.

“We knew for this new workforce that we had to be able to come meet them in terms of what they were able to do and their hours,” Hankins said. She also said the YMCA increased wages and focused on creating an environment that attracts employees.

Unlike the city-operated Krueger Pool, the YMCA is mostly for members and is open year-round.

Lock said city officials are looking at options to prevent a lifeguard shortage in the future.

The city is also continuing to hire lifeguards and cashiers for this summer. Those interested can apply here.

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