EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – As summer weather creeps in, many pools in the area try to navigate around the ongoing lifeguard shortages that are plaguing the country.
With many experts around the water expecting the summer of 2022 to see the most people visiting pools and going for swims since 2019, lifeguard shortages could affect how many pools operate but pools in the area are being proactive.
As safety is the main goal when around the water and for Heather Polley, aquatics director for the YMCA Ascension St. Vincent location and the Deaconess Aquatic Center, it’s important guards are also protecting those in the water but providing swim lessons as drownings have risen in the United States.
“The lack of lifeguards means fewer pools are opening which is driving people then when they’re ready for those water activities maybe to places that are not guarded and not as safe or driving them to the home pools where maybe people aren’t paying attention as well,” Polley said. “So being able to open pools with lifeguards is just going to really help with those statistics and help bring those statistics back down.”
After experiencing shortages last year Zachary Wathen assistant director of Burdette Park says this year they found different ways to fill positions.
“If something is somewhat broke you fix it and we saw the problem and we tried to come up with a solution to, to curve the pain of the pandemic,” Wathen explained. “We’ve thought outside the box and you got to use everything, every resource you can.”
With the YMCA being about 60 to 70 percent staffed currently and could use another 20 or 30 guards to be comfortable as pools looked to be filled this summer.
“I think we’re absolutely going to see full capacities at all the pools,” Polley said. “People are just so happy to be able to be able to out without too much restriction so that just makes the need for certified lifeguards in our community even greater.”
Wathan says it’s always important to be extra prepared.
“That’s always our first priority and that’s what they are,” Wathen said. “They’re patrolling the water to keep everyone safe so when we have enough guards we can open all of our features, we can operate fully.”