Indy Parks facing lifeguard shortage

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Just before the kickoff to the pool season, pools across the city are dealing with lifeguard shortages, including some Indy Parks locations.

“We’re gonna be packed,” Garfield Park Aquatics Director William Hollowell says. “I know there’s a little bit of a hint of storms coming in, but that won’t change anything. The pool will be filled out as soon as we open Saturday.”

Hollowell will have a packed schedule of rotating lifeguards at Garfield Park this weekend.

At a few other Indy Parks pools, the excitement of pool season starting is dampened by some anxiety.

“We currently have about 230 lifeguards,” said Indy Parks spokesperson Ronnetta Spalding. “Each year we like to be around 270.”

That means they need about 40 more lifeguards in chairs to be fully staffed at all Indy Parks through the whole summer.

“There definitely is that kind of push, where we definitely want to reach out to as many people as we can to let them know that we do have those opportunities available,” said Spalding.

Spalding says Indy Parks is competing with pools across the city that have shortages too. They’re all looking for people with the swimming skills and desire to lifeguard.

Whether it’s due to more schools switching to balanced schedules or kids picking up other activities, the result is the same. Not enough teens are signing up to lifeguard as they used to.

“I’m not sure that folks would say, ‘Let me go be a lifeguard at IndyParks,’” said Spalding. “I’m not sure they would maybe think of that.”

But Hollowell says it’s critical they show people why lifeguarding is such a good job between now and June 4, when the next wave of pools opens.

“People have to be safe and lifeguards provide that safety to them,” said Hollowell. “They’re very important. Without them, we obviously couldn't have a pool.”

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