There's a lifeguard shortage in Oklahoma City.
The city said the need extends beyond the metro.
Oklahoma City officials told News 9 they only have 28 certified lifeguards, usually they start the season with around 60.
“People are wanting to get out and about, they want to get back to what they missed last summer so we have a lot of people wanting to do this,” OKC Operation Coordinator Chris Lucas said. “Our interest for our group swim lessons were higher than pre-pandemic.”
One problem the Parks and Recreation department was not anticipating was a lifeguard shortage. Currently they have 28 lifeguards on duty and 20 in the hiring process.
“We are looking at an additional 20 more to be able to facilitate, operate, all of our facilities at a much larger level than we do right now,” Lucas said.
He said he doesn’t know why hiring has been so difficult, but he does know OKC isn't the only city with this problem.
“It's across the United States, I’m a part of a couple national aquatic associations and they are struggling from Oklahoma to New York, to California just to get lifeguards,” he said.
The staff shortage caused the City to close two pools.
“We’ve had to reduce all of our swim lessons, we’ve had to reduce all of our programs just so we can make sure to not overextend our staff,” Lucas said.
It takes 40 hours of training to become a lifeguard. The city pays for certification.
“First year lifeguards make $10 an hour, if you have already been here for one year or you do swim lessons there is an increase, we go anywhere from $10 to about $11.75 per hour,” Lucas said.
The city is also struggling to hire camp counselors, concession staff, and staff for their athletic programs.