Madison pools, beaches face lifeguard shortage

There is a desperate need to fill certain jobs around the state.
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 7:14 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - There is a desperate need to fill certain jobs around the state of Wisconsin. From the proposal to allow underage kids to serve alcohol to finding individuals to lifeguard -- there is a shortage.

Before the community gets a chance to splash in, Madison Parks and Recreation officials are asking for help. They are offering paid training to those who don’t have a lifeguard certification.

Madison Aquatic and Parks Coordinator Shane Martin says his team is diving in deep to fill vacancies.

“We’ve been going to multiple job fairs at the high schools, putting flyers around town, just doing everything we can to get people to try to apply and get some interest,” Martin said.

The shortage also impacts beaches. Currently, lifeguards are only working at Madison beaches on major holidays --- people are liable for themselves. Officials encourage the buddy system.

“We do have the no lifeguard on duty signs which is unfortunate because I would really like the staff, because it is a lot more safer that way and adds value to the neighborhoods those beaches are located in,” he said.

Lifeguards are allowed to work flexible schedules leaving it hard to fill all shifts.

“For lifeguards we are sitting at about 35 lifeguards, and we would like to get up to 50,” he said.

Aquatic Supervisor and College Student Valerie Chisewski reflects on how this job changed her life.

“With lifeguarding it creates that ability to have your own voice, meet new people as well as gain those leadership confidence to move in the workforce,” Chisewski said.

She believes there are multiple reasons why the shortage has continued.

“The pandemic can definitely have a risk on lifeguarding shortage getting back to normal because you also have to have the skills to save someone,” she said. “You also have to learn the basic first aid, CPR but at the same time you are also saving people’s lives and I think the big thing.”

The community pool will be open on June 9th. Officials say there will be multiple rounds of lifeguard training throughout the pool season and there is still time to apply for the position.

After having issues in the past, Janesville Parks and Recreation says they are fully staffed with lifeguards this summer. They have retained 60% of their crew from last year.

Recreation Programmer Elaena Noffsinger says her team is still in need of cashiers. She says if these get busy, she will have to move lifeguards over to cover cashier shifts.

“It’s not the opposite, where a cashier may not be able to perform the skills that a lifeguard needs for the job,” Noffsinger said. “Thankfully, I can do that where I can move a lifeguard into a cashier position and teach them fairly easily. So that’s kind of my plan if I still can’t find enough cashiers.”

Rockport Pool and Palmer Park Wading Pool will be open seven days a week in June.

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