Lifeguard Shortage Forces Multiple Cincinnati-Area Pools to Delay Opening for Summer Season

Cincinnati still needs to hire over 100 lifeguards in order to open all of its pools this summer.

May 10, 2022 at 3:00 pm
click to enlarge Pleasant Ridge Pool - Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Recreation Commission
Photo: Provided by Cincinnati Recreation Commission
Pleasant Ridge Pool

Summer is well on its way, and we all know the best way to beat the heat is to relax at a pool. However, a lifeguard and staffing shortage is already impacting many Cincinnati-area pools this summer.

The city of Covington says they are looking to hire up to 60 lifeguards, pool attendants, and front desk workers for this summer season, which lasts from June 11 until Aug. 8.

In hopes of getting more applications, the city voted last week to raise the pool's wages by $2 — starting attendants and desk workers at $10 per hour and lifeguards at $12 per hour. The city said in a release that they are hoping to hire teenagers who live in Covington for the positions. If you’re interested, you can apply here.

But Covington isn’t the only Cincinnati-area pool hurting for staff. In fact, Cincinnati is only opening eight of its 24 pools this summer, and of those eight, only three are planned to open Memorial Day weekend, while the rest are in need of staff before they can announce an opening date.

During a May 9 budget meeting, the aquatic director for the Cincinnati Recreation Commission (CRC), Ethan Hibbard, says that after recruiting lifeguards since last October, they only have 87 lifeguards. Hibbard says that they would ideally like to have 250 to 300 lifeguards for the summer season.

To entice applicants, the city raised the starting pay for lifeguards from $11.01 to $11.53 per hour. Hibbard says that if they get more applicants, they could open more pools. CRC director Daniel Betts says he believes this wage is not competitive, which is part of the issue when trying to find good candidates.

Betts also asked the budget committee for permission to offer lifeguard candidates who commit to working the entire simmer a $750 bonus and $500 bonuses to gate and pool monitors. This proposed bonus system will be voted on by the city council on Wednesday, May 11.

CRC officials say that aquatic facilities Dunman Recreation Center Complex in Westwood, McKie Recreation Center in Northside and Oakley Aquatic Facility will be open on Memorial Day weekend. As of now, Dempsey, Lincoln, Hirsch, Evanston and Pleasant Ridge do not have opening dates.

The city also operates nine free spraygrounds — including at the McKie, Oakley and Pleasant Ridge Pools — which are open Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Those who are interested in lifeguarding must be at least 15 years old to apply. The next lifeguard training offered by the CRC is May 31. Apply here.

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