Lifeguard shortage shuts down pools in Sarasota
SARASOTA, Fla. (FOX 13) - One pool is closed and two others operating on shorter hours due to a shortage of lifeguards in Sarasota.
The pool at Arlington Park and Aquatic Center has shut down. Hours have been shortened at the pools at Lido and the Robert L.Taylor Community Center.
"We're the people that are right there in 30 seconds," lifeguard Kenneth Diffenderfer said.
But without enough people to watch the water, the city has had to work with what they have while keeping safety a priority.
"Some of the patrons are upset but safety is our main concern," said Arlington Park Facility Manager Emily Overlin. "So we are unable to open certain features if we are unsafe with our number of lifeguards."
Sarasota joins a list of other cities across the U.S dealing with lifeguard shortages.
One of the reasons for the shortage, officials say, is fewer young people are applying to the once-coveted jobs.
To fill the gap, many cities and YMCAs have increased pay, but the numbers are still dwindling.
"It's a national problem…we are trying to work to find some solutions," said Overlin.
The city of Sarasota requires lifeguards to have at least one year of experience, a high school diploma, and a lifeguard certificate. They're now exploring the option of lowering the hiring standard.
"Other counties and cities in the area, their requirements are 16 years old, no experience. We are trying to be a little bit more competitive with what their requirements are so we can get some additional guards," she said.
The city hopes to attract 5 to 10 new part-time lifeguards. For more information, visit https://www.governmentjobs.com/careers/sarasotagov.