INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A nationwide lifeguard shortage is keeping Indy Parks community pools from opening full-time as staff says many teens and young adults are prioritizing school over work this summer.
“I know a couple of friends that are taking summer classes,” said Samantha Langdon, a sophomore at Purdue University. “So they can’t work as much in lifeguarding, like we work a lot.”
Data collected by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development shows that while the labor participation rate with 16-19 year-olds is up from 2020, it remains at 42%, lower than pre-pandemic 2019.
“I think it really took us by surprise with how hard it has been to get applicants and to reach our target market for lifeguarding, which is 16 to 24 year-olds,” explained Jennifer Stoneking, Senior Manager of Aquatic and Staff Development at Indy Parks.
Stoneking says the shortage has caused Indy Parks to eliminate programs, like the ability to give swimming lessons. She explains because of how long pools were closed last year due to the pandemic, much of her staff did not return for the summer.
“It’s pretty much starting over from ground zero,” she said.
I-team 8 has learned that anywhere between three and 12 lifeguards are required at community pools, depending on the pool’s size. Indy Parks says they are currently short 29 lifeguards, adding to less open days and shorter hours.
Below is the weekly schedule of Indy Parks Community Pools:
Indy Parks now allows fully vaccinated visitors to go without a mask when at the outdoor pools. They have also brought back lounge chairs.
To sign up to be a lifeguard visit parks.indy.gov.