lifeguard shortage

Lifeguard Shortage Affecting Bay Area Cities as Summer Approaches

NBC Universal, Inc.

There’s a shortage of lifeguards nationwide.

The city of San Jose said Wednesday that it has enough lifeguards to keep pools open as planned this summer. But that’s not the case in other Bay Area cities, some are short dozens of lifeguards and are now forced to cut swim hours.

Swimmers in Santa Clara will have fewer chances to get their water workouts in this summer. That’s because the city is short about 40 lifeguards.

Santa Clara’s recreation manager says without enough lifeguards, recreation swim days at some city pools must now be cut from six to two days a week. The city is also offering fewer swim lessons.

The nationwide problem is hitting Bay Area community pools hard.

“There’s absolutely a shortage,” said Jeremy Shoffner, recreation supervisor for the city of San Jose.

Lifeguards are in such short supply. At the Camden community center pool in San Jose, when one called in sick Saturday, the city had to shut down open swim for the day and summer hiring has been challenging.

“I would say that we would see closer to 50, 60, 70, applicants roughly on an annual basis. This year, we had 22,” Shoffner said.

Shoffner told NBC Bay Area that San Jose will keep all city pools open as planned this summer because it hired just enough lifeguards. He credits the fact that they started recruiting in February, reaching out to students directly at local high schools and college and offering incentives.

“In our first round of interviews, if we extended an offer, we also offered to put them through their lifeguard training, free of cost,” he said.

At "The Wave" in Dublin, despite the challenges, recreation manager Andrea Dwyer said that her department has hired 60 lifeguards for all swim programs and it will be open as planned this summer.

"It has been a little bit more difficult to do recruitment," she said.

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