Shortage of lifeguards in Durham means there are no swimming lessons in the summer, impacting the opening hours of the indoor pool

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DURHAM, NC (WNCN) — Durham’s outdoor pools opened Wednesday for the summer, but at least half of the city’s lifeguard positions are vacant.

Durham Parks and Recreation officials said they currently have 30 lifeguards, but need to hire 30 more.

DPR officials said the shortage is impacting hours at indoor pools now that outdoor pools are open, but at this time they are not having to close any pools due to the shortage of lifeguards.

Officials said that currently swimming lessons will not be offered at any DPR facility this summer due to a lack of staff.

“It’s an industry-wide outbreak, we’re in constant need of lifeguards,” said Jason Jones, assistant manager of Durham Parks and Recreation.

Jones said Durham had faced a shortage of lifeguards since before the pandemic.

“It’s a problem not just here in Durham, but across the Triangle and across the country,” Jones said.

Jones said DPR is working to recruit more lifeguards through job fairs, advertising and offering free training to become a lifeguard.

The job pays $17.99 an hour and he said everyone is encouraged to apply.

Ashley Harris became a lifeguard for Durham Parks and Recreation when she was in high school 15 years ago.

“It started as a part-time job that turned into a passion,” Harris said.

Today, Harris is the recreation supervisor for the city’s aquatics unit.

She hopes others will want to join Durham Parks and Recreation as the town faces a shortage of lifeguards.

“It’s a job where you can help people learn skills for life, like learning to swim, and you can also learn how to save someone’s life,” Harris said. “I think it’s a perfect job for a teenager who loves swimming and loves the water.”

To apply for a lifeguard position, click here.

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