KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knoxville pools are open for the summer, and several pools across the U.S. are expected to follow. However, many could also stay closed for the season due to a national shortage of lifeguards.
Officials said that low pay, the cost of training and a tight work schedule are all contributing factors to the shortage of lifeguards. Meanwhile, experts also said that drowning rates increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Lifeguard Association also said that lifeguards can help prevent around 4,000 drownings per year in the U.S.
Knoxville is trying to keep people safe by doubling down on water safety training and instructors. At Inskip Pool, lifeguards can take additional training to learn how to teach people to swim, helping people prepare for spending time in the water.
"In East Tennessee, pools aren't open year-round. The impact is huge when you have 24 months of not learning to swim and no lifeguard classes," said Randy Love, an Aquatic Specialist in Knoxville.
City leaders said they will need additional lifeguards to help watch over pool-goers while others are teaching people how to swim. There are currently 28 lifeguards on staff. Anyone who wants to participate in lifeguard training can sign up online.