DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The nationwide lifeguard shortage is still impacting pools across the United States. Pools in the Miami Valley are also feeling the strain as many aquatic centers get ready to open for the summer season.

Sarah McPherson is the Recreation Operation Supervisor for the City of Miamisburg. She said the Sycamore Trails Aquatic Center is ready to welcome swimmers to enjoy the pool and brand new splash pad.

“Everything has been going great. We’re plugging along up here, getting staff on-board and getting some last minute maintenance done, and it’s starting to look good. We’re ready to welcome people into the park,” McPherson explained.

While they have enough staff to open for the season, McPherson said they are still feeling the challenges of the lifeguard shortage.

“We have a roster right now around 30 and we typically like between 40 and 45. We are good to open, we just want to build that roster up for the remainder of the season,” McPherson said.

It is a different story for other pools in the Miami Valley. The City of Dayton has been dealing with a shortage of lifeguards for months. Lisa Barhorst is the Division Manager for Recreation and Youth Services. She said they have to keep one pool closed because of staffing.

“We currently have only two of our three pools open. We have our Belmont Pool at Lohrey open, and Northwest Dabney Pool, and those pools are not even open full time. We alternate which days they are open so that we are able to properly staff them,” Barhorst said.

Barhorst said they also do not have enough staff to offer swim lessons, which hurts their ability to hire even more.

“It’s pretty much full circle. If we can’t teach our community to swim, then we’re not going to be able to get lifeguards. We’re not going to be able to offer swim lessons and to keep our pools open,” Barhorst explained.

According to the American Lifeguard Association, this massive shortage was largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic when a lot of lifeguards could not get their recertification. Many people left the profession and have not come back. Wyatt Werneth, the Spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Association, said people need to start looking at lifeguards differently.

“We need to have communities take lifeguarding serious and say, listen, this is a professional organization. It’s not just a summertime job for college and high school. It could be a career,” Werneth said.

In the meantime, pools are getting creative to attract more lifeguards. Sycamore Trails offers its own training, and the City of Dayton is hoping to launch a lifeguard prep academy.

“It is great job. I was a lifeguard since I was 16. We had a great job doing it. The perks are you meet a lot of people within the community. You also get a good group of friends that you lifeguard with, in and out every day,” Barhorst said.

Sycamore Trails Aquatic Center is ready to open May 27, 2023. To learn more about becoming a lifeguard there, click here.

The City of Dayton Department of Recreation is also hiring lifeguards. These positions can be seasonal or year-round. To learn more, click here.