Local Pools, Beaches Seek Lifeguards Amid Nationwide Shortage
In a state known for its bodies of water, there’s a relatively short window for people to actually take a dip.
“It’s good to be able to enjoy everything after the pandemic,” said Akaylah Ritchie, a visitor to the Elm Creek Swim Pond in Maple Grove.
The Elm Creek Swim Pond officially opened for the season over Memorial Day Weekend. While the crowds may not have been large during the first few day of the season, it’s only a matter of time.
“As well all know, the temperatures are gonna go up as the week progresses, so we anticipate it to be a busy weekend coming up here,” said Bruce Bolduan, park and operations supervisor for Elm Creek Park.
With a busy weekend on the horizon, Bolduan says there’s one major area of concern at Elm Creek Park.
“Yes, we are looking for lifeguards,” Bolduan said. “There are lifeguard shortages across the nation, so we are looking for more lifeguards to be at our full operations.”
Under ideal circumstances, he’d have 25 lifeguards on staff at the swim pond. At the moment, he has 15.
Pandemic-related hiring challenges
Bolduan attributes the shortage to a variety of factors, with the main one being the pandemic.
“I think a common thing with COVID is a lot of aquatic centers may have closed last year, and that probably led to a lot of people dropping their certifications or finding other employment,” Bolduan said.
Other people could have chosen to spend this summer doing what they couldn’t do last year when COVID restrictions were in place.
Meanwhile, in the city of Plymouth, the lifeguard situation isn’t as dire.
“We don’t have a plethora of lifeguards, but we have enough staff to really, safely run our programs and our sites,” said Katie Yandell, Plymouth’s recreation supervisor for aquatics and safety.
Parkers Lake is one of the places where Plymouth will have lifeguards staffed all summer.
City officials say while they could always hire more lifeguards to do things like supervise, keep the water and beaches clean, and maintain a safe environment; staff members keep coming back year after year because many started with the program at the age of 14.
“They form such close relationships with each other, we become like a second family,” Yandell said.
Back at Elm Creek Park, jobs and training are available. With the peak pool season approaching, they just need people to take advantage of the opportunity.
“You’ve got to go with the times and so we’re just trying to get as many people as we can so we can operate fully,” Bolduan said.
If they’re not able to recruit enough lifeguards this summer, it may affect the number of hours they offer lifeguards at the swim pond. However, the shortage would not affect the swim pond’s hours of operation.
If you’d like to apply to become a lifeguard, check out the Three Rivers Park District website.