NEW ULM – There are enough lifeguards to keep pool facilities running this summer, but more are needed.
“We have always been and always will be in the business of recruiting lifeguards,” Ulm’s new park and recreation manager, Tom Schmitz, said on Monday.
The shortage of lifeguards has been an issue affecting pool facilities even before the COVID pandemic, but Schmitz said the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.
Many swimming pools and aquatic centers have been closed during the pandemic. As a result, lifeguards were not needed and the few people interested in lifeguard training were unable to obtain certification.
Others who were already certified as lifeguards saw their certification expire. The American Red Cross lifeguard certification is only valid for two years.
Schmitz said the vast majority of aquatic facilities are looking to hire lifeguards and water safety instructors (WSIs). WSIs are required to give swimming lessons.
“We have enough lifeguards and swimming instructors to operate, but we need more,” said Schmitz.
Schmitz confirmed that some levels of swim lessons have waiting lists due to a limited number of swim instructors.
New Ulm Park and Recreation offers lifeguard training courses. The June lifeguard training course has already started, with seven people registered for the course.
There will be another lifeguard training course offered by Park and Recreation in July. Anyone interested in training is encouraged to contact New Ulm Park and Recreation at 359-8347.
The shortage of lifeguards is not limited to the aquatic center in New Ulm. Across the country, there is a shortage of available lifeguards.
Flandrau State Park has opened its swimming pond, but at limited times due to a limited lifeguard staff. Currently, the Flandrau bathing pond is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. It is closed from Monday to Wednesday.