MILWAUKEE — Finding enough lifeguards to keep Milwaukee County pools staffed will continue to be a problem in 2023, according to officials. So far, the county has about 65 lifeguards hired for the summer season.

What You Need To Know

  • Hiring lifeguards remains a challenge, but it's going better than last year

  • About 65 lifeguards have been hired so far

  • The county is still looking to fill positions 

  • More information on staffing impacts or pool closures is expected in May 

Andrea Wallace is the assistant director of Recreation and Business Services for Milwaukee County Parks.

Wallace said that while their numbers are looking up from where they were at this time last year, they still have a long way to go to be at full staff.

In 2022, a lack of lifeguards forced as many as 25 pools and splash pads in the county to not open. While Wallace said that some closures may be possible this year, it could be less drastic than last year.

“I think this year we will be able to expand our offerings and will continue to grow our aquatics program back to pre-pandemic levels. It may not be all aquatic facilities, we will expand, but expanding compared to 2022 levels,” said Wallace.

Wallace said that Milwaukee County plans to announce what, if any, pool closures will take place by sometime in May, once they have a clearer picture of their total lifeguard numbers.

Despite the lack of lifeguards, many are excited to be taking on the challenge. Attending a training session at Pulaski Pool in Milwaukee, 16-year-old Saoirse Collins said she is looking forward to being a lifeguard this year.

Collins said she realizes the need that exists in the community, and she hopes she can make a difference.

“It helps open a lot of pools in the community that are very cheap to come to or free to come to for a lot of people,” said Collins.

Wallace said there are likely multiple reasons why lifeguard recruitment has become more challenging in Milwaukee County and nationwide.

In addition to fewer young people feeling confident as swimmers, Wallace said today’s kids are often busier with other activities throughout the year.

“The requirements for a career have changed. We are seeing a lot more commitments. If you are on a swim team and you swim competitively, you might swim year-round compared to just a season in high school now,” said Wallace.

Milwaukee County is still hiring for lifeguards, as well as numerous other seasonal jobs. You can find more information on their hiring website