(KGTV) — Cities across the country, including San Diego, are facing a severe pool lifeguard shortage as we head into the busiest time of the year.
"Our pools are at maximum capacity every day. We have to stop letting people in," said Nicole McNeil, Aquatics Manager for the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.
McNeil says they're required to have one lifeguard for every 25 people. Therefore, they have to reduce pool capacity. They've also limited programs like swimming lessons and fitness classes.
"We're really in a place where we need help. We need the community to support us," McNeil said.
The department mainly hires high school and college students for the positions, but McNeil says they've seen a decline in applicants over the past ten years.
"Now we're seeing that people are very school-focused, and in general, people just aren't working as much," McNeil said.
The city is looking to hire 100 pool guards across its 14 pools.
McNeil says they've increased wages by 10% to help with recruitment.
They also provide training.
"At this time, we're hiring interns, and as an intern, you're getting paid to learn how to swim, to get all of the certifications that you need so that we can promote you to be a pool guard as soon as you're ready," she said.
Most importantly, McNeil says they want to ensure pool safety.
"Accidents happen all the time. We want to keep our community safe. We need more pool guards to do that," McNeil said.
The Parks and Recreation Department is holding a job fair on June 24 for pool lifeguards and other positions. It'll be at the Balboa Park Club at 2144 Pan American Rd. W from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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