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Pools reduce hours due to lifeguard shortages



Indianapolis, Indiana — Now that the summer heat is here, pools and waterparks are once again dealing with a shortage of some pretty essential employees, lifeguards.

As we experience near-record temperatures, there was no shortage of patrons at Splash Island in Plainfield. “We generally like to 100-125 lifeguards per season,” Plainfield Parks Director Brent Bangel said. “The last few years we’ve seen a struggle with getting the guards.”

Even before the pandemic, the water park has dealt with major shortages of its lifeguards. Things got so bad that they had to make changes. “Starting last year, we reduced the starting age to 15 from 16,” Bangel said. “And we added a seasonal summer bonus to the lifeguards if they met a certain number of hours.”

Plainfield also bumped pay up to $13.50 per hour at the beginning of the year. Even with the raises, Splash Island said it is still only 80 percent staffed. However, they hope it won’t stay that way for long. “I actually just submitted a request for another 16 people to go through a training class in the next week or two,” Bangel said during an interview on Tuesday. “So I don’t see us having any problem hitting that 120 employees.”

Indy Parks recently took their starting pay up to $15 per hour and still they only have enough people to open about half of the city’s pools. “We’re still kind of getting applications in, we’re still talking to folks so the process is not done,” Ronnetta Spalding with Indy Parks said. “We are hoping to open additional pools in June and July.”

On Sundays, the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis has had to close all of its pools because of a lack of guards. They increased wages, but say the competition is fierce and safety is paramount.

Indy Parks hope those numbers will increase in the coming weeks. “Right after spring break, we have continued to see an uptick in the number of applications we’re receiving,” Spalding said. “So we’re still talking to folks to make sure they know these positions are available.”

All the facilities still have open positions and are looking for employees.