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Lifeguard shortage affecting pools, water parks in Northwest Arkansas

According to the American Lifeguard Association, up to half of all pools in the country are in need of lifeguards.

ROGERS, Ark. — Pool days may look a little differently this summer at certain swimming locations in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley as the areas face a lifeguard shortage. 

Creekmore pool has seen a few challenges thus far with lifeguard shortages but is still operating like normal. According to the American Lifeguard Association, half of pools across the country are experiencing a shortage.  

"At first we had one, two, or three lifeguards and we typically have 15 to 20. We didn’t know if we were going to be able to open this year, but as the application process went through, we have officially 10 lifeguards currently,” said Doug Reinert, the Fort Smith Parks & Recreation director. 

The pool adjusted to the shortage by cutting daily hours, opening at noon instead of 10 a.m., and will close at 6 p.m.  

“We’re just always kind of improvising and adapting and trying to figure out, you know, what the next thing we’re going to have to do," Reinert said.  

Its pool capacity is 300 people. But with limited lifeguards, it will only allow half that.

“That’s why it’s important that we have a lifeguard to patron ratio. We need to be able to see the entire floor and cover the entire of that swimming pool.” Reinert explains.  

Meanwhile, in Rogers, the aquatic center is fully staffed now but recruiting was quite a process that started in January to avoid any issues. Manager Leanne Jacobson says the shortage goes beyond lifeguards. 

“I think part of the problem in this area is that there’s a shortage of indoor pools that have deep water enough willing to have lifeguard classes.” 

The pool at Creekmore Park will also be shortening its swimming season this year by closing on July 31.

Regardless of how many lifeguards are on staff, their priority is always your safety. 

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