Lifeguard Shortage May Keep Some Tulsa City Pools Closed

Sunday, June 3rd 2012, 7:28 pm
By: Tess Maune

With Tulsa city pools opening up for business this weekend, summertime has officially begun. But a lifeguard shortage means at least one pool won't open as scheduled.

The water is waiting. And the fun is just beginning. Elizabeth Lewis and her dad, Mark, are thrilled to be swimming into summer.

"The sun, getting my daughter out for exercise, getting out of the house. Being cooped up all winter is terrible," said Mark.

The kids at McClure Park pool agree. It's one of five public pools where kids and adults can dip their toes this summer.

"Ya know, it just really doesn't seem like it would be summer unless we had pools," Tulsa Parks spokesperson, Rob Hendrick.

Tulsa Parks opened the McClure pool over the weekend.

"You can tell people are already out here and it's hardly even one o'clock yet and it's a pretty good crowd at the swimming pool," Hendrick said.

There may a good crowd, but Hendrick says there's not enough lifeguards to safely open all five pools just yet.

"I think we're missing six, five or six," said Hendrick. 

Until they fill some of those positions, Lacy pool will remain closed for at least another week. Hendrick says each year they struggle with finding enough people to fill lifeguard stands.

"They have a lot of fun and they like to come back every year, but it's still important that they're the best we can find," said Hendrick.

And for those who have been the eyes of the pool in the past say they can't get enough.

"I started five years [ago] and I look forward every summer to coming back. You meet a lot of people and you grow up in this job, as much as you have fun," said a lifeguard.

It's a summer experience that this lifeguard says will last a lifetime.

Lifeguards must be Red Cross certified to apply for a position. Hendrick says, over the course of the summer, a lifeguard can make up to $3,000.