Lifeguard Shortages In Mecklenburg County Trickling Down To Neighborhood Pools And Causing Staffing Problems

MECKLENBURG COUNTY — A message was sent to neighbors Friday in the Wellington neighborhood off Prosperity Church Road in North Charlotte. The pool closed on Saturday because of staffing issues saying: “It just takes 1 guard to call in sick, and our pool would close. This was never an issue before because there were always plenty of guards to go around and pick up extra shifts. This is not the case this summer.”

Tyler Benton is the head lifeguard at Shannon Park Swim Club. He says although the Shannon Park pool has full staff:

“Any pool that is understaffed, I would definitely be concerned about safety there. Here again, we’re very thankful that we don’t have to deal with being understaffed,” Benton says.

Terri Stowers is the division director for community and recreation center services with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation.

“A lot of neighborhoods have went to swim at your own risk, which carries it sound concerns,” says Stowers.

Stowers says the county could only open Double Oaks, and Cordelia pools are now open two days a week and will increase days open as they add more staff. Ramsey Creek Beach continues to be temporarily closed. She says the lifeguard shortage has been a problem nationally for the last decade for several factors, like declining access to swim training for potential applicants and the increase in part-time job alternatives creating more competition.

“The fast-food places and the restaurants and things like that, typically we pay more than them it’s going to be a bidding war. Not just with the other lifeguard, people thinking lifeguards, but you know people seeking employees everywhere.”