OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Get your swimsuits ready! It’s opening day for the City of Omaha's public pools. However, not all 15 pools will open today.
Pools around the metro, and the country, say there is a lifeguard shortage that is making it very difficult to staff pools and ensure safety for its visitors.
Omaha is no different. The city’s recreation department knew this would be the case for a few months now and had planned ahead to make sure ten pools will be open at a time and everyone will have access.
“We tried to make sure we strategically placed which pools were open at which times so there’s always somewhere for people to swim at, no matter what part of town you’re in,” Omaha’s Recreation Manager Chris Haberling said. “To have 15 pools to be able to choose from, we have a little bit of a bigger pool of lifeguards, so if we do need subs at certain pools, we can take them from other pools as well. So that’s a nice benefit but having to staff 15 pools is a daunting task for our staff.”
Elmwood, Camelot, Elkhorn, Hitchcock, Miller and Zorinsky will be open for the entire season.
Gallagher, Roanoke and Hanscom also open on Monday for half the season. Cryer will join them but will have a delayed start.
The four pools opening in the second half of the summer are Deer Ridge, Karen, Oak Heights and Spring Lake.
Once the season is over, Elmwood and Deer Ridge will remain open for weekends only through September 5.
“We’re hoping next year we can get them all filled. We hope that this year, too, but it’s just getting tougher and tougher. I think we went out and recruited harder this year than the last five years combined,” Haberling said. “We left no stones unturned and did everything we possibly could to find the staff out there. I know kids got things going on in the summertime so it’s a tough go, but we did the best we could.”