Lifeguard shortage causes some Indy pools to close on certain days

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pools across Indianapolis are now open for the season, but you may have noticed some pools are closed more days than others during the week.

Indy Parks and Recreation takes a lot of things into consideration when putting together the summer schedule, such as lifeguards and attendance.

The city had a shortage of lifeguards in May. With a recent push to hire more, they are now short about 14 lifeguards, according to an Indy Parks spokesperson.

Many families tried to stay cool Wednesday by spending time at the pool at Broad Ripple Park. Jasmine Bosley came to the pool with her husband and two boys.

“Very hot which made it kind of tiring, came to the pool to kind off blow off steam, to refresh, and cool off,” she said.

Bosley’s husband said this was his first time at this particular pool.

“I actually have never been here before, my wife has. First time here,” said Alexander Bosley. “Seems (like a) pretty laid back environment and everything so it’s pretty cool. I like it.”

Both parents are trying to teach their kids how to swim. While adults and kids are enjoying the water, lifeguards are on duty.

“Being a lifeguard, yes you do sit and you do watch the pool but it’s a lot more serious than that,” said Sam Downton.

Downton is a certified lifeguard.

“I think a lot of people don’t give it that much credit because, yes we are sitting in a chair, but at the same time when you do have to get out of the chair you are technically a first responder,” she explained. “You’re responsible for everyone’s life at the pool.”

She said she saved seven people last season.

“I don’t think any amount of training can prepare you for what it’s like because you can’t panic and you can’t freak out. You have to be the one they can go to because that’s your job,” Downton said.

The city currently has 279 lifeguards on duty and that number is up compared to 269 last year. 24-Hour News 8 learned each pool, depending on the size will have anywhere from four to 12 lifeguards.

“We don’t have enough lifeguards to stay open all day, every week,” Downton said.

Indy Parks and Recreation operates 18 pools across the city, 11 of which have some type of closure every week. The pool at Broad Ripple Park is closed every Monday.

“We have to look at the attendance levels. We kind of talk to the staff members and see, how did this pool do last year to kind of project what we think it’s going to do this year, and that’s how we base the closures,” said Ronnetta Spalding.

Spalding is the spokesperson for Indy Parks. She said they are doing their best.

“We are kind of working within our means with the available lifeguards and again just doing everything that we can to keep those doors open,” Spalding said. “We’re excited to kick off the summer and we hope the people will keep coming by.”

Meanwhile, the city is also offering free admissions to pools, weight rooms, and waived entry fees to Eagle Creek and the Garfield Park Conservatory for one day only on July 8th.

Click here for the Indy Parks Spray Ground Schedule.

Click here for the Indy Parks Pool Schedule.

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