Summer staffing levels are up for La Crosse area pools

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — It won’t be long before summer arrives and families head to the pool. The La Crosse Parks and Recreation Department is busy preparing for opening day.

Pool-goers should not have to worry about COVID-19 mitigation policies this season like last year, said Gabe Flottmeyer, aquatics coordinator for the department.

“Last year, we had open swim sessions A and B where we would have a 30 minutes break to clean in between each session where everyone was removed to clean,” Flottmeyer said. “We will not be doing that this year.”

However, the pandemic is still having an impact on staff, he said, adding, “We’re still looking to fill a couple more gaps in our staff.”

Lifeguards have been in short supply across the country.

At the Dahl Family YMCA, aquatics director Zachary Pfau said a shortage of lifeguards has always been an issue. The pandemic has only increased it. Teenagers who usually fill the positions are looking for work elsewhere, he said.

“I think these days there’s way more opportunity to get job experience in other fields,” Pfau said.

Flottmeyer, who said he’s hired 50lifeguards this year, added, “Compared to last year, that’s amazing. We were still hiring up until the opening day and even partway into the summer.”

Flottmeyer said he still is looking to hire more, explaining,  “It’s good to have a list of reserves in case somebody can’t make it, or we have a large number that goes out.”

La Crosse pools seem to be in a decent position leading into the season, but Pfau said there’s still a long way to go.

“More than last year, yes,” he said. “More than pre-COVID times, no — I think we’re still fighting to come back from that.”

Flottmeyer said he hopes to have any scheduling gaps filled by next week, just in time for people to start making a splash.

All La Crosse Pools will open Saturday, June 6, and are scheduled to remain open until Sunday, Aug. 21.

Lifeguards looking to apply for positions as lifeguards at the Dahl YMCA can apply here. 

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