NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A lifeguard shortage is leading to delayed pool openings and booming swim lessons in some cases.
Empty lifeguard stands sit at several community pools. The American Lifeguard Association reports a shortage across the country. According to Olympic gold medalist Davis Tarwater, he's had trouble finding lifeguards for his SafeSplash Swim Schools.
"We’re hearing reports of summer pools that have had to close down, and even in our staffing of lifeguards it’s been difficult, we have people that train them in-house but have had a hard time," Tarwater said.
During the pandemic, some training and certification courses were canceled or delayed. Tarwater said, "and then a lot of pools were not open for a period of time, so there was a crunch in the lifeguard market that is now coming full circle."
For parent Collette Rodrigues, she feels better knowing little Maeve and Genevieve are learning swimming safety. "I wanted to make sure my kids were safe. I also think when your kids learn a new skill it empowers them," Rodrigues said.
She said they go to several unguarded pools, so knowing how to swim is important her 2-year-old and 5-year-old.
"When you’re at a public pool, I’ve seen attendants just being on their phones not paying attention, and that happened in the last few weeks," Rodrigues said.
As their swim lesson came to an end, Collette hopes lifeguard stands will be filled soon for safety reasons. "All it takes is a second… if they think they’re fearless in the water, that’s when bad things happen," Rodrigues said.
Another reason there's a swim lesson boom is that a lot of kids missed their lessons during the pandemic. SafeSplash just opened another swim school in Cool Springs this week.