Recruitment of next summer’s lifeguards is already underway.

Better luck this time, we hope.

The city has begun recruiting lifeguards for next summer following a significant staffing shortage that led to the closure of two-thirds of Houston’s public pools this past season.

The Parks and Recreation Department, which operates Houston’s 37 aquatic centers, usually begins its recruiting campaign in November, reaching out to high school and college students who make up the majority of its summertime employees, according to Leroy Maura, the city’s senior superintendent over aquatics.

In the past two years, however, staff were unable to go to most schools and colleges due to COVID-19 restrictions on visitors, Maura said.

The city’s public pool system requires 188 lifeguards to operate at full capacity, but only 60 were on staff this past summer. As a result, 25 pools were closed, with the rest opening only three days a week on a rotating basis. On a given day, swimmers could go to only one of six operating aquatic centers.

This is the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic that department employees are able to carry out in-person recruitment events. So far, city recruiters have visited 10 local high schools and signed up more than 130 students as prospective hires.

“We would go on campus and set up a table there,” Maura said. “My staff would be carrying information about the job, some pictures and the uniform to just kind of give them an idea of what it’s going to be like to work as a lifeguard.”

Based on past experience, the department needs at least 1,000 initial prospects to eventually hire about 180 lifeguards, Maura said.


The city raised the pay for pool staff in May in hopes of attracting more applicants, from $13.66 to $16 per hour for lifeguards; to $18 for head lifeguards; and $20 per hour for aquatic center supervisors.

Anyone with swimming skills who will be over the age of 16 by May 2023 can call the Parks and Recreation Department at 832-395-7129 or email the team at [email protected] to apply.

See here for some background. I would not have guessed that recruitment for this normally starts in November, but given the numbers involved I understand. With the Parks and Rec department able to do more in person events in the schools now, as well as the increased pay, hopefully the problems from last year will be history. In the meantime, if you’ve got or know a teenager who would qualify and might be interested, let them know about this.

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