AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin is on the search for lifeguards as summer approaches.
Staffing shortages have plagued many industries, and Aaron Levine, Austin Parks and Recreation aquatics supervisor, said the lifeguard situation the city is facing right before peak swimming season in Austin is in the same boat.
Without enough lifeguards, that means city pools could stay closed this summer.
“In 2019, we were up to 850 lifeguards by the end of the summer, which is plenty of lifeguards,” Levine said. “Takes about 650 to run the division.”
Barton Springs Pool is closed down two days a week until they find more staff and can train them for specific certifications required to work there.
“We are seeing the same thing everyone else is seeing,” Levine said. “We cannot and will not operate a pool without lifeguards.”
In March 2020, the division had to shut down and it couldn’t train anyone for a year — that is one reason why the department is having issues filling positions.
Last year, the city had 550 lifeguards, 100 fewer than they need, but they are hoping more people sign up to help.
“I am a local from Austin,” said Isaac Sprouse. He decided to sign up to be a lifeguard. “I am third generation, and it is a beautiful place, and if I get paid to be here, it is a perfect deal for me.”
Levine said they are seeing fewer high school students apply, but he is hopeful more will join the ranks soon.
“It is a good job, you meet a lot of people, it is a good environment and you learn a lot,” Sprouse said.
The city is offering a $500 completion bonus for lifeguards who start June 1 and work at least three shifts through the summer.
It is also important to note that if you want to be a lifeguard at Barton Springs you will need at least one season of lifeguarding and special open water training.
To apply to become a lifeguard, you can go to the city’s website. Pay starts at $15 per hour.