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Phoenix-area towns gear up for Memorial Day pool openings

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — It’s that time of year! Memorial Day weekend means the city’s pools open up in the valley. As the pandemic continues, more cities are providing options for families. “We’re ready to go,” said Phoenix aquatics director Becky Kirk. “We are excited to walk through the doors tomorrow.”

Kirk felt like the city was starting from scratch when it came to hiring more than two years into the pandemic. “Returning to 29 pools and 650 employees is definitely a huge challenge,” she said.

Heading into this summer, Kirk says she has hired about 400 lifeguards, swim instructors and other staff. That’s enough to open 14 of the city’s 29 swimming pools, two more than last year. The city will also open all wading pools from Saturday. “We hope the people we hired this year will be happy to come back for us next year,” she said. “And that will give us a very good basis to keep moving forward and be able to open more pools.”

Although the city of Phoenix is ​​no longer hiring lifeguards for this summer, it is already planning for years to come with its Lifeguard Academy program, which offers free certification courses for anyone 15 or older. That, combined with the city’s $2,500 hiring incentive, means that even though 15 city pools won’t open this summer, Kirk feels good about the direction things are going. And she’s not the only one.

In Mesa, all nine pools in the city will be open and fully staffed this weekend. “We had five separate classes for lifeguards and water safety instructors,” said Kevin Christopher, senior public information specialist at Mesa. “We had enough people in those classes to staff our pools. We also have a number of people, over 200, also returning from last year. »

Christopher says the city currently has 350 employees for its nine pools and plans to hire more staff as needed throughout the summer. But not all towns in the Valley are ready to open right now. Glendale is always looking for more lifeguards for its two aquatic centers. For this reason, only one will open on June 7, the other opening on July 5.

It’s another reminder that cities must continue to think outside the box for jobs that were high on the wish lists of many teenagers. “Being a seasonal job for teenagers, they can work part-time year-round in other locations,” Kirk said. “So how do we fight this?”

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