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Phoenix to open 18 of its 29 public pools this summer

Hiring and retention bonuses are helping Phoenix find — and keep — lifeguards at city pools. 

Last year, 14 of Phoenix’s 29 pools were open during the summer. This year,18 should open for part or all of the season. 

Tracee Hall, assistant parks director, said the department has launched a new certification program for shallow water lifeguards.

“This certification is for those who could not complete the deep water requirements, there are limited spots available for this position. To date, we’ve certified 30 individuals and they are going through the interview process. Our hope is that they will continue their skill development in order to be certified as lifeguards in the following years,” she said.

Since the city council approved $3,000 hiring and retention bonuses last year, 76% of aquatic staff will return this summer. Hall told council members how the department is developing future lifeguards.

“We have the lifeguard academy, which is a free program for 14- to 17-year-olds in an effort to get them certified as lifeguards,” she said. “We also have the junior lifeguard program, which is free for 14- and 15-year-olds, and this program teaches water safety, swim competency, CPR and leadership skills.”

Communities across the country have experienced lifeguard shortages since COVID-19. For the first time since the pandemic, Phoenix also plans to bring back limited adult swim lessons and water exercise classes.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.