Hattiesburg pools experience lifeguard shortage

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Finding a place to cool off is a priority for many in the summer months. This summer, there has been a shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors, including in Hattiesburg.

The shortage is causing some pools to reduce hours or even rearrange staffing to meet the demand.

Dewey Case, the Association Aquatics Director with Family YMCA, said in 2001, he trained 120 people to become swim instructors. This year, he’s only trained 18. Case said a shortage in swim instructors is also a major concern.

“That’s an even worst problem than having lifeguards. They close a pool at reduced hours, but without enough good qualified swim instructors, we have people all across the state that’s learning to swim and that we eventually increase drowning rates,” Case stated.

Bill Powe, the Aquatics Coordinator at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), said one of the biggest challenges he has seen is finding qualified swim instructors.

“It’s been a challenge for us is in finding qualified swim instructors and being able to continue with our normal programming,” he said.

Powe said the aquatic program at USM is helping other organizations struggling with the shortage in Lifeguards.

“We did see a lot of struggles and challenges throughout Hattiesburg, so we did as much as we could in training other lifeguards.”

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