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Rockford Park District experiences lifeguard shortage

Rockford Park District looks to fill dozens of lifeguard positions
Updated: May. 29, 2021 at 12:04 AM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Lifeguard shortages around the country and here in the Stateline have leaders struggling to open pools on time.

As Stateline pools begin to fill up, the Rockford Park District looks to fill dozens of lifeguard positions, a job Aquatic Supervisor Vivian Knapp says has given her much more than a summer paycheck.

“We have dinners, we hang out we get to know each other and because we work so much for such a short amount of time cause it’s just seasonal, we really get close, we become a family we go through the entire summer together and you build a lot of lifelong friendships as well,” said Knapp.

Rockford area residents could be able to swim this summer, but maybe just not as often. Leaders at the Rockford Park District are focusing on reopening three pools, but need more people to watch the waters. Rockford Park District leaders fear the summer season at Alpine, Sand Park, and Harkins Pools could be in jeopardy if these positions don’t get filled.

“If we don’t have lifeguards, that’s the glue that holds our aquatic facilities together. we want to bring it back in full force at full capacity and we need the community’s help to make that happen,” said Aquatic Manager Derrricka Davis.

Leaders say a summer job as a lifeguard can even lead to promotions within the district, something Knapp has seen firsthand now as a supervisor.

“I was able to do my job and do it well and I was able to move up and keep learning new things about how to run a pool, what it takes to run a pool and just about how to keep people safe. and i just trusted myself and so far it hasn’t let me down,” said Knapp.

Davis said they don’t plan to close if they don’t get enough lifeguards. Their backup plan is to adjust pools times and schedules to keep everyone safe.

As of now, Sand Park pool is scheduled to reopen June 12th for the first time in three years. Harkins and Alpine are scheduled to open the following Saturday.

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