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Local pools across Southern Arizona face lifeguard shortage

lifeguard shortage in Tucson
Posted at 6:53 AM, Feb 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-25 11:52:14-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — From working on water rescues to teaching people of all ages how to swim, local lifeguards say they're learning it all. But lately, public pools across southern Arizona are struggling to fill lifeguard positions.

Alejandro Florez said he's been in the lifeguard chair since he was 15 years old and not long after, he started teaching lessons.

"I was on swim team in college and I love being around the water," he said. "And I've been teaching lessons since I was 16 years old."

He said he coaches the city's swim team, special olympics and teaches children's swim lessons.

"It's truly my passion," he said.

But often Florez said it's just him and another guard working at Catalina Pool. It's a year-round job, which Florez said gives guards new experiences and exercises different skills.

"Honestly if we just had one of there guard here for the day shift that would be great," Florez said.

Billy Sassi, the City of Tucson's aquatics manager, said he wasn't able to open all 20 pools over the past few years. Last year, he was only able to open 12 pools due to the pandemic and staffing issues.

He said he hopes to get enough guards to open for the major summer months.

"If I had about 250 guards that would be great that would be double what we had last year," he said.

Lifeguards must complete their certification before heading to interview for the job. The classes for certification as well as re-certification are offered through the city. Sassi said the best way to get into a class is to call Catalina Pool or visit the City of Tucson website.

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