MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Because of a nationwide shortage of lifeguards, many communities are cutting back on the number of swimming pools they can safely open this summer.

As the City of Memphis sets to open a limited number of indoor and outdoor pools this Saturday, they are about twenty lifeguards short.

8-year-old Kayden Poole is one of the many children waiting for the Willow Community Center swimming pool in East Memphis to open.

“I’m really looking forward to it. I love feeling the wind on my head and the cool water,” Poole said.

Poole is still learning how to swim, but he knows the important role a lifeguard plays.

“Some people might sink and they don’t know how to swim,” Poole said. “So you might want to look out for a lifeguard.”

Willow Park is one of four outdoor pools and four indoor pools set to open Saturday as Memphis deals with the lifeguard shortage.

“I don’t want anybody to think this is a funding issue. We have funding to be able to open many more outdoor pools. We don’t have the lifeguards,” said Nick Walker, the City of Memphis Parks Director. “Every lifeguard has to be recertified every two years and so we lost a significant number of lifeguards, who lost their certification during the pandemic and just never decided to come back.”

The list of four indoor pools set to open are:


Hickory Hill

Orange Mound

Raymond Skinner Pool

The outdoor pools set to open are:

Ed Rice




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With intentions to open nine pools this Saturday, crews have been setting up, testing pools, and recertifying lifeguards this week.

When the number of lifeguards came to fewer than expected, the decision was made for safety and operational purposes to open only eight pools at a time.

A standby pool will be set up and ready at Gooch Park in North Memphis.

“Whichever has the lowest attendance or the largest number of incidences where we have safety concerns, that will be the one that falls off,” Walker said.

The city has increased pay for lifeguards to $15 an hour and there is a $500 sign-on bonus. There is a lifeguard class coming up next Thursday.

Go to Memphis Parks website and Facebook page for information on signing up or call 901-636-4200.