As June brings rising temperatures and sunny skies, Sarasota residents are diving back into summertime activities. However, their pool plans may be dashed due to a national lifeguard shortage. That means the City of Sarasota’s public pools—Lido Beach Pool, Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex and the Robert L. Taylor Community Center—have to revise their hours of operation due to the shortage.
The reason for the lack of lifeguards? The pandemic forced public pools to close, and lifeguards had to find other work, according to NPR.
Emily Morris, manager of the Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex, says she's been on the lookout for lifeguard staff since February in the hopes that the complex could avoid a shortage like the one they're experiencing now.
"We’ve run our lifeguarding class every month since February, so it’s been a long-term goal to make sure that we weren't going to be affected this summer,” she says. “But unfortunately, it has happened. So what we’re doing is trying to run another class in June."
At least six additional lifeguards are needed to report for duty at Sarasota County pools this summer, since June and July are the pools' busiest months. Until then, the updated hours will allow existing lifeguards to rotate between the three pools.
City of Sarasota representatives are encouraging qualified lifeguards to apply online. For those who are interested but not qualified, the city's Parks and Recreation Department will host a Red Cross lifeguarding certification course from Wednesday, June 22, Friday, June 24, for individuals at least 15 years of age. Sign up online here. Registration is $225.
Once more lifeguards are available and ready to work, Morris assures Sarasota residents that city pools will return to regular hours. Currently, the Lido Beach Pool is open Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m; Arlington Park & Aquatic Complex is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. 5-p.m.; and the Robert L. Taylor Community Center is open Tuesdays-Fridays from 2 -p.m.-5 p.m.
For more information about the certification course, contact the Arlington Aquatic Complex at 941-263-6732 or visit their website here.