TOPEKA (KSNT) – Hillcrest Pool in Topeka will not open with the rest of the pools in Shawnee County on Memorial Day Weekend.
“If we don’t have enough guards to staff a pool, we can’t open it because we want to keep people safe,” Mike Mclaughlin with Shawnee County Parks and Rec said.
The Hillcrest pool in Topeka has received the least amount of lifeguard applications for the summer, meaning it will stay closed at least through Memorial Day Weekend.
“That’s really sad for the kids in the community cause it gives them something to do,” Tausha Johnson whose daughters swim at Hillcrest said.
As of Friday afternoon, Shawnee County had just over 100 lifeguards for its three aquatic centers and four community pools.
To be fully staffed, they need closer to 200.
Johnson said her daughters are almost on summer break and will now have to find a different pool until Hillcrest opens.
“With COVID and everything it’s been really horrible on the kids and for them not to have an actual place that they can go play besides the playground and stuff, it’s sad that it’s not going to be open when it should,” Johnson said.
Mclaughlin said more teens are opting for internships or just haven’t made plans for the summer yet.
He’s hoping the shortage is just temporary.
“Several of the school districts ran a little bit later this school year than they normally do, so a lot of the kids will still wait until school’s out to start looking for a summer job,” Mclaughlin said. “And that’s why we hope to pick up a number of more applicants there and make it through the summer ok.”
Shawnee County lifeguards make $8-$9/ hour.