CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Memorial Day Weekend means many pools will be opening again. This year, though, some are struggling to get enough lifeguards in the stands.
Kings Dominion told 8News last week that its water park, Soak City, will not be opening until June 19 due to a lack of lifeguards.
Ted Quinn, Safety School Director at SwimRVA, said there has been a slight lifeguard shortage for the last few years, but post-COVID, it is much worse.
“All of us would prefer to have about 25 percent more candidates than we had before,” Quinn said, speaking about SwimRVA and other pool organizations in the area, “And I think that ratio is a little tighter now. Maybe 50 percent more candidates to put through lifeguard classes.”
SwimRVA provides lifeguard training classes, which Quinn said have been tough to find. The nonprofit was one of the few to reopen these classes to the public since COVID-19 pandemic began, investing thousands of dollars in safer equipment like new mannequins.
“So far this year, I’ve had people drive, for standard lifeguard classes, from Delaware, from all over Tidewater, from North Carolina,” Quinn explained.
He also thinks concerns around COVID safety may be holding potential lifeguards back. “They’re weary a little bit still,” he said.
Quinn works closely with other pools and swimming organizations in Central Virginia. He hears the same need for lifeguards from others in the field.
“Tidewater’s got the same issue, Central Virginia’s got the same issue,” Quinn told 8News.
The shortage raises some concerns about access to pools this summer, according to Quinn. “If we can only staff for a certain number of hours, then we can’t open for those hours,” he said.
SwimRVA is still in need of lifeguards for this season. For information, click here.
Virginia State Parks told 8News it is also in need of lifeguards and other staff members. For information, click here.