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Pool hours impacted, openings delayed amid ongoing lifeguard shortage

Posted at 8:28 PM, May 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 00:22:28-04

LEHI, Utah — The unofficial kickoff to summer has come and gone.

However, several pools are seeing hours changed and openings delayed due to an ongoing shortage of lifeguards.

That can be seen at the Lehi Legacy Center.

Aquatics manager Suzanne McBee said they normally have 35 lifeguards for their outdoor pool. They are down five right now.

As for the indoor pool, she says they have 37 lifeguards staff, down from the usual 60.

Zack Joseph has been a lifeguard at the pool for a year.

"It's a really fun job that I enjoy a lot," said Joseph.

The rising senior at Cedar Valley High School says the job does come with its challenges, especially with fewer lifeguards on staff.

"I'd say it makes it a little bit harder on the lifeguards that are staying because there they're having to work more shifts," said Joseph.

Being down close to 30 lifeguards has caused the Legacy Center to make some changes to its usual hours of operation this time of year.

"We had to change our hours here at the Legacy Center due to not having enough lifeguards to be able to staff," McBee said. "We are closing two hours earlier than normal for our open swim Monday through Friday."

That means instead of closing at 8:50 p.m. like in the past, they now close up shop by 6:50 p.m.

She said they've also had to adjust how the lifeguard shifts work and how long they are.

"I've been with the city for 17 years, I've just been in this position for the past five," McBee said. "We've never seen anything like this before."

The same situation can be seen just to the north in Salt Lake County.

"We're at around 750 hired, but several of those are in the queue to be trained," said Josh Reusser with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation. "With that, we're looking to hire 100-200 more now we're past Memorial Day."

Salt Lake County has 19 indoor and outdoor pools. Reusser said so far, only four outdoor pools have opened as planned. They are working toward getting all of their pools open and operating at regular hours.

"The plan is to open them latest by July 1, all of the pools, and hopefully we can get everybody trained," said Reusser.

As for those who man the lifeguard stand, like Joseph, he's hopeful that more people will come in the door and help keep things safe for everyone who comes out to enjoy the pool.

"It would make it a little bit easier on me, make the schedule a little bit more loose and free and it would also make it a little less stressful," said Joseph.

McBee tells FOX 13 News they've put some things in motion, including offering the lifeguard training class for free for those who work for them — something she says they've never done before.

Anyone who would like to become a lifeguard at the Lehi Legacy Center can visit the website to apply.