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Lifeguard Shortage Could Change Your Pool Experience This Summer

GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)- Cooling down in a pool when the weather this summer may have its limits. Danna Schmidt and her husband were at Splash at Fossil Trace in Golden on Thursday.

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(credit: CBS)

"We are just trying to teach our daughter how to swim," Schmidt said.

They first tried a nearby recreation center but staffing shortages there made it difficult to plan.

"We never really knew what to expect, so we were really excited when this opened," she said.

Splash, while staying open, isn't immune to what is a nationwide lifeguard shortage.

"We have about half of the lifeguard staff that we need to be at full operation in the summertime," Becky Richmond, Recreation Manager for the City of Golden said.

With the safety of their guests in mind, she says changes had to be made. Hours were reduced and capacity is based on staff, and how many lifeguard stations are manned.

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"If we don't have the people to do that, we have to reduce our capacity," she said.

It's a similar story across the Denver metro area, in Aurora they're shifting resources to their busiest pools and in Boulder a social media campaign was launched to try and attract new applicants.

"Be a superhero," one lifeguard says in the video.

Wyatt Werneth with the American Lifeguard Association says the pandemic played a role. Social distancing limited training opportunities and closures to public places like pools limited recruitment.

They're now trying to make the job more appealing.

"There are incentives out there we are offering higher pay we are offering in some cases sign-on bonuses," he said.

Richmond says they're trying everything launching their own bonus program while adding some extras to the workday.

"We celebrate freezer Fridays," she laughed, "Every week we provide free ice cream for the staff."

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But at the end of the day, she says whatever staff they have safety is the priority.

"We are doing the best we can to provide a safe summer for people in the water," she said.
If you are interested in applying for a lifeguard position you can visit the City of Golden's website and look for the job opportunities tab.

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