ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The national lifeguard shortage is hitting Rochester this summer, resulting in limited hours, with some pools not opening at all.
In a typical year, the City of Rochester staffs lifeguards at four or five bodies of water at a time, including Ontario Beach park and Durand Eastman Park. This year, they only have the staffing for three at a time.
“There will most likely be reduced hours on the weekend,” Eric Rose, director of the city’s community athletics, said.
Rose said the demand to swim has always been there for people of all ages, but especially for families with children. For them, pools serve as a way to keep kids busy on a hot day while allowing them to practice their swimming skills and water safety.
“Swimming is a lifetime activity that benefits kids, the sooner we can get them acclimated to being around the water, not having a fear of water — it’s a lifetime skill,” he said. “We think it’s important for everyone to experience and have.”
Rose says the city is searching for experienced lifeguards, such as lieutenants and captains, in particular.
“Applications just haven’t been coming in as they have in past years,” he said. “We’re exploring different ways to start our hiring process early, and identifying swimmers throughout the year.”
In the hopes of drawing in candidates, Rose says they’re working to offer competitive wages and match other entities around the county.
Beginning hourly pay starts between $15 and $15.50, an increase from last year. For more experienced roles like beach manager, pay can be as high as $21 an hour.
“But once again, this is a national trend, so everyone is having a shortage of lifeguards regardless of the pay grade,” Rose said.
In the meantime, offerings are limited.
Right now, that includes the beaches, the Trenton and Pamela Jackson R-Center, and the Willie Walker Lightfoot R-Center. The city also has eight spray parks available as cooling locations, too.