DENVER (KDVR) — Lifeguard shortages around the state are causing long lines and limited hours for people trying to escape the summer heat.
Despite a statewide lifeguard shortage, Denver opened eight pools to the public Monday for the first time since pandemic closures.
The city managed to staff 150 lifeguards for all eight pools. Many were rehired guards who spent eight hours a day last week training to get re-certified.
Monday’s opening in Denver had the FOX31 Problem Solvers curious about how short-staffed other pools are across the metro area.
In Aurora, they are about 100 lifeguards short.
“It’s frustrating both on our side as well as their side, because we want to be open as much as possible to serve the public, and we can’t do that right now,” said Alek Raymond, Aurora’s aquatics supervisor.
At the Del Mar in Aurora, kids felt lucky if they were the one of 150 allowed inside of the waterpark during the 90-degree day.
“They told us the wait is three hours. It is totally full, which last week they had the same problems,” resident Sarah Congdon said.
Congdon and her kids were part of a line of families Monday who tried to enjoy the water park but instead found themselves on a lengthy waitlist.
“Because of the staffing shortage, we are having to do more of a rotating schedule with our pools as far as sharing staff, moving staff between pools,” Raymond said.
Until they have enough guards to stop rotating staff, Aurora is having to shut down some of their pools for certain days of the week.
In Boulder, they are resorting to the same.
Westminster is short about 50 lifeguards. Due to the shortage, the city has to offer 100 hours less of open swim at three facilities and can’t do group swim lessons.
In Broomfield, the shortage is forcing the city to limit capacity and operate under an appointment-only swim option until 15 to 20 more lifeguards can start working.
Aurora and many other cities are hoping to fill spots with more incentives. Free training is just one of them.
In Aurora, “we’ve run more training classes in the last couple of months than we have ever,” Raymond said.
“Our lifeguards are starting at $14 an hour, which is about a $1.50 to $2 jump from what they were starting a couple of months ago,” Raymond said. “We’re also working on an incentive program that gives our guard a bonus at the end of the summer for how many shifts they worked up to $600.”
Westminster also increased hourly pay rates for seasonal staff and lifeguards to attract candidates, increasing up to $2 per hour, depending on the position.