The staffing shortage has hit the city’s most iconic swimming hole, Barton Springs Pool.
Starting March 21, the chilly, spring-fed pool in downtown Austin will close Mondays and Wednesdays, in addition to its regular closure from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday for cleaning.
The staffing shortage dates to March 2020, when the Austin Parks Department cancelled lifeguard training due to the pandemic. Training resumed a year later, but the department still hasn’t caught up with the deficit.
Not just any lifeguard can work at Barton Springs Pool. Because of its unique features, like a natural bottom, special Open Water Guard certification and training are required. Besides guarding visitors at the popular pool, guards there also assist with training throughout the season.
Related: Ten reasons swimming in a lake, pond or river beats a swimming pool
About 100 trained lifeguards are on payroll and ready to work, but only 23 are certified as open water guards.
The Aquatic Division will keep Barton Springs Pool closed on Mondays and Wednesdays until more guards can be hired, trained, and certified.
The Barton Springs closures will not affect the daily 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. swim times, which will remain “swim at your own risk” without lifeguards.
According to a press release from the City of Austin, Aquatic Division officials will try to keep the pool fully operational from March 12 to 20, but with staffing levels so low, temporary capacity limitations may be imposed if there are any fluctuations in staff availability.
For other swimming options on days Barton Springs is closed, go to AustinTexas.gov/Pools.
Apply to be a lifeguard at lifeguardaustin.com