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Raleigh Can't Find Enough Competent Lifeguards To Keep Summer Pool Hours

A picture of lifeguards training in a pool.
Raleigh doesn't have enough lifeguards on staff to keep regular pool hours this summer.

Fewer teens are becoming lifeguards at local city pools.

Raleigh has had to cut hours at its city pools because it's fallen 40 slots short of its hiring goal. 

Raleigh Aquatic Director Terri Stroupe says fewer than half of the participants who signed up for a free lifeguard certification class last week passed the swim test.

"The requirements have not changed. I really do think that people are sitting in front of screens more often," says Stroupe. "We are seeing more kids struggling with those physical skills, and maybe are not in the water, around the water, as much."

Robb English is the aquatics supervisor in Chapel Hill. He says the city has fewer pools than Raleigh, so they've been able to hire enough guards. But English says it's more of a challenge than it was 10 years ago.

"There are other positions out there that young adults... that are, you know, within the same pay rate of a lifeguard, but not having to endure the heat of an indoor pool or the sun of the outdoor pools.

Terri Stroup adds that many of those other jobs, like in retail or at fast food chains, don't require much pre-requisite training.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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