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Lifeguard shortage in Phoenix forcing some public pools to close

Phoenix-area children will have fewer options to cool off this summer, as cities struggle to find enough lifeguards to open up their public pools.

PHOENIX — Phoenix area children will have fewer options to cool off this summer, as cities struggle to find enough lifeguards to open up their public pools.

On Memorial Day, the City of Phoenix will open only 14 of its 29 public pools because of a lack of staff.

“The City of Phoenix is experiencing hiring difficulties much like everyone else,” said city spokesperson Adam Waltz.

For kids whose community pool will be closed, the city is considering a transportation program to send them to the nearest open pool.

The problem is not unique to Phoenix. The City of Glendale tells 12 News it will have only half of the lifeguards needed for its program. Glendale’s two aquatic centers will be open with limited hours.

Waltz says the City of Phoenix is sympathetic to parents’ needs.

“Look summer is brutal,” Waltz said. “And if you can have an outlet that’s cheap in most locations for kids to go swimming, that’s just priceless. And a lot of families don’t have the luxury to have backyard pools.”

Phoenix is also offering a $2,500 bonus program for lifeguards and inviting teens to participate in its free lifeguard training academy this summer to get certified in August. 

That certification would allow the participants to be eligible to be lifeguards in the summer of 2023.

It would require about 650 total staff members, including managers, cashiers, and lifeguards, to open all pools, Waltz said.

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