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These are the Phoenix city pools open in summer 2022

Although the weather here in metro Phoenix means we can swim pretty much year-round, the opening of the Valley’s public pools is a summer rite of passage. But this year, like the last few, not all pools are open.

This is not the first time the city of Phoenix has had to leave many pools shuttered because of a lifeguard shortage.

Last weekend, the city opened just 14 of its 29 pools, including the Maryvale public pool in west Phoenix. The scene early Tuesday afternoon included children splashing around on floating obstacle courses, shooting hoops and otherwise escaping the beating sun.

Becky Kirk is the aquatics supervisor for Phoenix, and she said the pandemic has had an impact. Last year, just 12 pools were open.

“Moving into this year, the entire intent was to continue to rebuild, to hire more people, to open more pools, and we were able to hire an additional hundred people, so we were able to open up some more pools," Kirk said.

Ashley Brown is in her third year as a lifeguard. This is her first at the Maryvale pool. She loves the job, but it’s been challenging.

"Honestly, I can't tell if it's just the overworking — I think it's because they're so short of lifeguards that they're put on such hard hours," Brown said.

And despite what you think you know from TV and the movies, the job of a lifeguard is not easy. Brown said lifeguards have to stay focused on the water their entire shift, leaving little room for breaks, both physical and mental.

Leaving some pools closed allows for the ones that are open to be fully staffed, which is ideal for safety but not for those who live in neighborhoods where the pool did not open.

Kirk said geography was behind the decisions of which pools to open or close this summer, with the goal being to have an open pool within a reasonable driving distance for all residents. The city also prioritized pools that tend to be busier.

The hope is more will be opened next year because, as Brown said, public pools aren’t only about cooling off on a hot day.

“The pools are a home for these families. They come and they spend all day, open to close," Brown said. "The families come and walk, a lot of the kids, they come and they walk on their skateboards. They come, they have no water, no food, they just come and spend the whole day and have fun here.”

According to the city, the Parks and Recreation Department will open the following 14 pools: Coronado, Cortez, Deer Valley, El Prado, Encanto, Harmon, Hermoso, Maryvale, Paradise Valley, Pecos, Perry, Roosevelt, Starlight and Sunnyslope.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.