SEARCY, Ark. – A central Arkansas pool is back open after having to temporarily close its doors due to staffing shortages.
The Searcy Swim Center was running on a limited-hour schedule this past Spring Break because they didn’t have enough lifeguards. Searcy Parks and Recreation Director Mike Parsons spoke on the shortage.
“It was very stressful,” Parsons said. “We were down over 10 to 12 lifeguards.”
Lifeguard shortages continue to plague pools across the U.S. The American Lifeguard Association said it has gotten so bad the country has reached crisis mode.
“I think the idea of lifeguard, it’s fun, it’s easy but when you really get down to it, people’s lives are in your hands and it’s a big responsibility,” Parsons said.
With a potential summer closure on the horizon, managers in Searcy say they had to kick things into high gear.
“Spring Break was kind of that kick in the butt that kind of showed us we have to do something different or we’re not going to be open for the summer,” Parsons said.
This week, the Searcy Swim Center sits close to a full staff, with just two open positions.
The Center said the shift was in part due to a $5 pay raise for city employees but what really made the difference was hosting lifeguard certifications in-house.
“Our biggest thing now is we have staff on board that can do the certifications,” Parsons said. “We can bring on our own people, get them trained, get them hired.”
Over the course of two months, managers were able to turn the tide.
“It’s been a relief,” Aquatics Director Katelyn Denney said.
So now with each kick and splash, people in Searcy can swim into Summer knowing someone is looking out.
The Searcy Swim Center will be open throughout the week and on weekends.