Raleigh teen hopes to ease lifeguard shortage as half of the city's pools remain closed

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- "Lifeguards Needed." and "Free lifeguard training." signs are everywhere.

The city of Raleigh is taking desperate measures to sure up a job that saves others, that now itself needs saving.

ABC11 met 16-year-old Madison Butts on Saturday who answered the call.

"Yesterday, I watching ABC11 and I was like oh maybe I should be a lifeguard so I just came here to pick up the papers and swim with my family," said Butts.

Optimist Park is one of four indoor pools in Raleigh remaining open on modified hours.

Outdoor pools in the capital city remain closed. The City of Raleigh needs a total of 75 lifeguards.

In Durham, leaders say they need a total 60 lifeguards, but right now they are down 30.

Pool closures in Raleigh forced Cyre Phillips and her son to drive across town to another location.

"I was disappointed because we were all excited. We thought we were going to go swimming, water slide and everything. They had to settle for this," said Phillips.

The problem is layered. The pandemic is slowing recruiting efforts, pool owners are dealing with a lingering two-year supply shortage of Chlorine tablets, and a lack of interest or regard for a poolside job, that is literally life-saving.

The CDC estimated each year nearly 4,000 children die from drowning.

ABC11 asked pool visitors why they think people are not interested in being a lifeguard?

"Because everyone thinks they can make money from home. My guess," said Phillips.

To splash some interest on the role the pay in Raleigh went from $9.25 to up to $15.00.

In Durham, the hourly rate is $18.00

Madison Butts sees lifeguarding as an opportunity to not only make money but also keep people safe.

"I feel like I'm changing the world," said Butts.

Durham is currently hiring lifeguards. Please visit the City of Durham Career Page for more information on openings and to apply.


In Raleigh, people can visit here and search for "lifeguard" or "cashier"
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