DENVER (KDVR) — Pools throughout the Denver metro are opening in time for the summer heat, but lifeguard shortages are often impacting when the public can access them.
Memorial Day is typically opening day for pools all across the metro. But in Denver, the opening of outdoor pools has been pushed to June 13 to allow for more time for recruitment and training of lifeguards.
Aurora city pools are just another city impacted by lifeguard shortages.
“Staffing has been a huge challenge this year, and we’re not alone in that,” said Alek Raymond, with Aurora Aquatics.
City tries new tactics to train lifeguards
Before they started paying lifeguards for training, Aurora was short 100 lifeguards. Since then, they’ve cut that number down to about 50-75 positions that are still open.
“In the past, we would have to go through all the training and everything before actually getting hired. We’re now hiring kids before that and then training them after,” Raymond said, “which gives them an opportunity to not only have free training, but they actually get paid to train and become certified as lifeguards for us.”
“Our scheduling was really based off of what we felt like was most available to the community and kind of best serve the communities we can. That’s why we have all the pools opening up. You know, even if they’re just one day a week,” Raymond said.
Raymond said they’ve gone to pretty far lengths in order to keep every pool open at least one day a week.
“It’s tough on a lot of these teenagers. Some of them don’t even have cars and are riding bikes around,” Raymond said. “So we’re carpooling. We’ve got managers who are taxis and ferrying people between pools to be able to get them opened up.”
Still, long lines form outside pools that are open, especially because on Fridays, some Aurora pools are free.
“We’ve been waiting about an hour here,” said Bryana Ricketts, a pool visitor. “Our friends are inside. And so we’re trying to get in but unfortunately, we couldn’t, because they reached capacity.”
Many people who show up at Denver recreation centers with indoor pools are met with closed signs.
Denver said that during the staffing shortage, they’re closing indoor pools to prioritize outdoor ones.
Public pools in the Denver metro area
Recreation departments throughout the region say they are far short of the number of lifeguards needed to operate safe public pools. Some cities have even closed pools or limited their hours in response.
The public is urged to check their local recreation centers before showing up at a pool to make sure they’re open.
Here’s a list of where you can find that information for cities throughout the Denver metro region. You can also find hiring information.
- Adams County
- Castle Rock
- Commerce City
- Federal Heights
- Fort Collins
- Jefferson County/southwest Littleton
- Lone Tree
- Wheat Ridge