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Lifeguard shortage impacting staffing at local pools

Posted at 5:12 AM, Jun 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-01 08:12:41-04

Lifeguards are in high demand, and there just aren't enough.

"If we could find more staff then we would have extended hours and we would offer additional lessons and programming," said Lynda Plescia, City of Paso Robles Recreation Services Manager.

The City of Paso Robles hired lifeguards to fill 21 of the 23 seasonal staff positions for the summer 2022 season. They have enough lifeguards to run the pool but not enough to stay open during extended hours. Plescia says there is a number of reasons for the staffing shortage.

"People have been cooped up for quite a while so there's a lot of travel plans this summer, and then here in the north county 'The Ravine' has become very popular," said Plescia.

Around 300 people have been hired to work at the ravine water park in Paso Robles, cutting into the aquatics staffing throughout the northern part of the county.

"I know we're the only public agency offering swim lessons in the north county this year due to the shortage," said Plescia.

Morro Bay Harbor Patrol tells us they are also experiencing a lifeguard shortage at the beaches.

The Lompoc Aquatic center is experiencing a staffing shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors as well.

In order to become a lifeguard, candidates must first go through a certification process that includes CPR and first aid training. It takes many hours and is costly. Lifeguards must pass the course in order to receive certification.

"When you can go somewhere else and can be at a fast-food joint and basically learn on-the-job training that does become a factor for some folks," said Mike Espino, City of Lompoc Recreation Supervisor of Aquatics.

Espino says the City of Lompoc needs about 12 lifeguards in order to operate the aquatics center. They currently have 15 lifeguards and are in the process of hiring five more. Though they technically have enough lifeguards to operate, Espino says they need more to account for time off, unplanned absences, and scheduling conflicts.

Lompoc is still looking for lifeguards and has created an incentive program to attract workers.

"We try to at least eliminate the need or the burden for prospective lifeguard candidates by offering an incentive program," said Espino.

If an interested candidate goes through the necessary training to become a lifeguard and then is hired to work at the Lompoc Aquatic Center they will reimburse the fee for the course.

At Paso Robles public pools, public swim is returning this summer for the first time in 3 years Monday through Friday at both pools from 1-4 p.m. Public swim was not offered during the pandemic due to public health concerns.

Paso Robles is no longer hiring lifeguards for the season, but they still have availability if you would like to sign up for swim lessons. You can register at or in person at their office.