A nationwide lifeguard shortage has reached some of the pools in Montgomery County.
Without enough lifeguards, pools are forced to adjust their operating hours, close or cannot offer a full range of summer programming.
“We do not have enough guards to be open all of our usual hours,” said Fawn Johnson, Crawfordsville Parks and Recreation Director. “We may find that there are other times where we do have to close if we do not have enough staff to safely be open.”
Johnson said the city has not had this problem before.
“I have been doing this for like 20 years and I have never had it be so severe,” she said. “There have been times where we were a little tight, but never as bad as this year.”
Johnson knows reduced hours are unfortunate “because you know summer is pretty short already.”
The splash pad adjacent to the park pool has not been impacted as it does not require lifeguard supervision.
Staff at the Crawfordsville Aquatic Center is at about 75%, said Kevin Hedrick, director.
“Without lifeguards, the full programming cannot be achieved,” he said.
He was perplexed with the unexpected situation.
“This is the first time in 10 years we have ever had any kind of shortage like this,” he said. “And I can say that it is not just us who are in the shortage. It seemed to be everywhere.”
Hedrick said CAC lifeguards also serves as swim instructors, and the shortage is impacting that program.
“We are not at the point where we are able to expand our programming back to where it was two years ago,” he said.
Although the two city pools are struggling to secure sufficient lifeguards, the other two pools in the county are doing fine.
“We are doing all right. We can just do one life guard a day,” said Joel Clouser, who manages the Waynetown Aquatic Center. “It is a problem, but we are pretty good about it.”
Jared Ham from the Crawfordsville Country Club said staffing at the pool is fine.
“We had to turn away a few people this year as we did not have enough hours for them,” he said.
However, the club is facing a shortage of staff in the restaurant.
There are various reasons for the lifeguard shortage this summer. However, it is clear the pandemic played a part. Community pools were closed last summer and were unable to hold the necessary lifeguard licensing courses, thus creating fewer lifeguards for this season.
For more information, contact Milligan Park Pool (765-364-5175); Waynetown Aquatic Center (765-234-2154, ext. 106); Crawfordsville Country Club (765-362-2809, ext. 6); and Crawfordsville Aquatic Center (765-364-3247).