Half of Raleigh's city pools still closed as summer approaches due to lack of lifeguards

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- If you're going to your favorite seasonal pool, you'll want to check ahead of time to make sure it's open. Half of Raleigh's city pools are still closed.

Lake Johnson Pool is just one of the four Raleigh pools still closed because of a lifeguard shortage. Meanwhile, the city's other four pools--Pullen, Optimist, Millbrook Exchange and Buffaloe Road--are all operating on modified hours or closing certain features because of shortage. To reach full capacity, the city needs to add at least 75 lifeguards to its staff.

"The employee really has the upper hand deciding what they want to do for a profession and life guarding isn't the easiest job in the world. It may look easy at times, but in order to be a lifeguard you have to be able to swim 300 yards without stopping. You have to be able to tread water for two minutes with just your legs. And you need to be able to pull a 10 pound object from the bottom of the pool," said Ken Hisler, Raleigh Parks and Recreation assistant director.

The Raleigh City Council recently approved a pay increase from $9.25 an hour to $13 an hour hoping to entice more people to get certified. But the pandemic stopped certification classes from happening and now they're still struggling to fill spots.

"High schoolers do like it because it's flexible. While they're going to school they can come work for us in their off hours. I even tell my own kids if they would get one, you can always have money in your pocket because every pool needs lifeguards. But it is less desirable. They can work in coffee shops, they can work in retail and there's other benefits and perks they get out of that," Hisler said.

The good news is there is a lifeguard class happening this weekend and they're hoping to certify 18 more guards. By June 10, they should be able to open the remaining four pools at some capacity.

If you do want to be a lifeguard but need to take the class, the city will pay for it. Click here for more information on how to sign up.
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