Lincoln pools set to open on Memorial Day amid national lifeguard shortage

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Lincoln pools are set to start opening on Memorial Day in the middle of a nationwide lifeguard shortage.

That’s why the city has been working since January to fill vacant positions after some pools were forced to adjust their hours last year due to a lack of staff.

The city of Lincoln held multiple job fairs this spring to fill lifeguard roles and other positions.

Maggie Stuckey-Ross, director of Lincoln Parks and Recreation, says that despite the shortage they feel prepared to open this summer.

“This is our favorite time of the year, it’s kind of like Christmas for Parks and Rec,” she said. “It’s all hands on deck to get pools filled and lifeguards hired and certified, and make sure everything is ready to go to welcome the bathing public.”

The city says anyone interested can still apply for positions, you just need to be at least 16 years old.

The positions pay $15 an hour with a $100 hiring incentive, and the certification cost is covered by the city.

In order to draw in more workers, the hourly pay was increased.

The YMCA is also opening its pools this weekend and has been working to get enough staff for the summer.

Geoff Weller, executive director of the Cooper YMCA, says it’s a great job for young people with flexible hours to work around school and other activities.

“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for teenagers, college kids,” he said. “We try to hire plenty of people so we can provide adequate rotations and give people plenty of breaks to get out of that sun and cycle through to our indoor pools.”

Morgan Fischer, a lifeguard at the Cooper YMCA, said it’s a fun job and she enjoys working with the kids.

“It gives me a sense of, definitely, responsibility but also compassion,” she said. “Because I care that they’re staying alive, and I care that they’re being treated well.”

Seven city pools are opening on Memorial Day, while two others will open at the beginning of June. Officials say this staggered start will allow them to properly train new lifeguards and other staff.

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