Lifeguard Shortage Prompts Reduced Weekday Hours at Diamond Lake Beach
Starting Monday, June 14, Mundelein’s Diamond Lake Beach will be closed Mondays through Thursdays and open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
“A shortage of lifeguards in communities throughout the U.S. this summer is forcing many public pools to close altogether and beaches to go unsupervised,” said Matt LaPorte, Superintendent of Recreation at Mundelein Park & Recreation District. “Fortunately, we have successfully recruited, trained and retained enough lifeguards in Mundelein to keep our popular Barefoot Bay Aquatic Facility open daily by shifting staff from Diamond Lake Beach.”
During a typical swimming season, Barefoot Bay alone employs 100 or more lifeguards, but this season has only 60. As in other communities in Illinois and nationally, closed pools and beaches in 2020 severely reduced the number of experienced applicants who would normally have returned in 2021 for the same job or to be promoted to supervisor positions. When Barefoot Bay closed in 2020, many potential applicants sought jobs elsewhere. Lifeguard job applicants are mostly high school and college-aged students.
“Safety is paramount,” said Ron Salski, Executive Director, Mundelein Park & Recreation District. “Even if the next phase of the Restore Illinois Covid-19 mitigation plan determines our aquatic center could operate at maximum numbers, we intend to maintain capacity at 60% (900 bathers) for a safe ratio of swimmers to lifeguards on duty. This will also ensure families have enough space to enjoy Barefoot Bay.” Barefoot Bay is a six-acre outdoor family water park with pools, slides, diving, river float, climbing water wall and concessions. In addition to Barefoot Bay and Diamond Lake Beach, families can also enjoy the Spray Park, which is free for Mundelein residents and located in Keith Mione Community Park.
District leadership indicated they will take various action steps if there is a shortage of lifeguards at Barefoot Bay such as close specific areas, reduce hours and/or remain at capacity. They will reassess hours of beach and aquatic center operation after July 4. In the meantime, the District plans to continue an ongoing recruitment campaign to attract additional job candidates for lifeguard positions with incentives that include signing, retention and referral bonuses, free fitness center access and paid training. Current job openings are posted at https://www.mundeleinparks.org/aquatics/barefoot-bay/employment/