Tampa struggling to find enough city lifeguards in time for summer

If you’re looking for a summer job, Tampa Parks and Recreation wants to hire you as a lifeguard.

"We’re struggling," aquatics team supervisor Peggy Lenny said. "When you're talking about pools, you're talking about safety, and there have to be people there that guard the patrons."

Lenny said they’re still looking to fill about 30 of their 90 seasonal lifeguard and instructor positions, as well as 21 year-round aquatic leader spots, which "is about 50% of my staff that work year-round."

If they can't fill those positions, they will have to make some difficult decisions.

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"The result will be a change of hours, change of programming if we don't get enough lifeguards to run the pools," Lenny said. "Our intention is not to close any one of the pools, but we may have to reduce some hours."

The American Lifeguard Association (ALA) estimates this year’s lifeguard shortage could be "as bad as last year, or worse," according to spokesperson Wyatt Werneth. The shortage impacted around one-third of U.S. public pools in 2022, according to ALA.

According to ALA, the COVID-19 pandemic affected access to training opportunities so "there were fewer chances to train new lifeguards and to re-certify existing ones," Werneth said.

"Nobody wants to be in the sun or you have to put down your phone. It's not a job that you can have your phone with you," Lenny said of the possible reasons behind the shortage. "I feel like teens, college kids are doing a lot more internships instead of working in the summer."

Those who are interested in becoming a lifeguard in the city of Tampa must be at least 16 years of age. 

For more information, call the aquatic office at 813-274-7732. To register, contact the pool of your choice or visit tampa.gov/parks-and-recreation.

The next lifeguard courses are May 13-14 and 20-21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Cuscaden Pool, which is located at 2900 North 15th Street.