Lifeguard shortage could impact hours, opening days at area pools

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 2:47 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Pools across the St. Louis area need dozens more lifeguards to ensure opening day goes as planned.

“We’re at about 25 and ideally we’d like 45-50. For some of our other county pools we are definitely short still,” said Paul Kettenbach, the complex manager for The Pavillion at Lemay, one of St. Louis County’s outdoor pools.

Kettenbach says they are visiting high schools and putting the word out that more lifeguards are needed to ensure they can open all pools on Memorial Day weekend. If they don’t, it could impact summer fun.

“You could see us have to limit attractions, limit amenities, have to limit hours certain days of the week, would be worst case scenario,” he said.

In St. Peters they also need more lifeguards.

“We are short of the number of lifeguards that we would like to have at this point as we prepare for the outdoor pool season, but we think we’re in better shape than some of our neighboring cities. We raised our pay this past winter to $12.50 per hour for lifeguards, and we believe that increase in pay set us up for a recruiting advantage. But, there remains an overall shortage in the labor force, and that may impact some of our indoor pool operations,” said St. Peters Director of Recreation Phil Boettge.

St. Louis County also raised their wages to $13 this year. They will also train lifeguards free of charge.

St. Louis City pays $15 an hour for lifeguards. They also need dozens more to ensure they can open their pools. In 2021 the opening of several pools was delayed because of short staff. You do not need to be a city resident to work at the pool.