DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – The 2021-22 swim season was one to forget for Point Mallard Park and surrounding pools.  Some openings were canceled altogether due to another shortage of lifeguards and work staff.   

As they prepare for the upcoming summer swim season, pool managers say they are a little behind where they would like to be in hiring lifeguards and staff with about six weeks remaining before the season opens. 

Hiring lifeguards are at the top of the list.  

“We try and get them ready and trained each year,” said Shane Stewart, the president of the Decatur City Parks and Recreation board. 

Each year Stewart trains lifeguards to get them hired and prepared to do the job. The challenge he says has been to try and assemble enough of a flow of lifeguards, something that’s been an issue since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown that limited the number of young people applying for the job.  

“They start usually when they are a sophomore or junior in high school and then they stay with us two, three or four years until they go off to college,” Stewart told News 19. “We usually have a constant flow of lifeguards coming through but two years of being closed down with the pandemic you lose two years of guards, so you lose that base to grow on every year.” 

Stewart is hopeful that the classes will continue to grow. 

“I know the classes have been increasing as we go. They typically do it every year and the closer we get to summertime the more people think they want to be a lifeguard this year,” said Stewart.

Stewart says that Parks and Recreation are looking to hire 120 or more lifeguards this year for Point Mallard, the Aquadome Pool and the pool at Carrie Matthews, whose open days were cut back drastically over the past two years. 

Decatur City increased the pay for lifeguards in an effort to increase its hiring base and to avoid any closings for lack of personnel. You can find out how to apply here.