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Tucson raises lifeguard pay to $16.75 to staff city pools

The Tucson Parks and Recreation Department is seeking to hire an additional 200 lifeguards to safely manage its summer pool operations and has bumped the pay for the second time in five months.

In February, Tucson Parks and Recreation increased lifeguard rate of pay to $15 per hour. However, in response to an extreme lifeguard shortage, the city has again increased the rate of pay, to $16.75 per hour to operate city pools, while running swim lessons, and youth camp programs. 

The city has only been able to open 10 pools this summer and is trying to open 10 more as soon as possible.

Lifeguard recruitment remains a top priority for the department and hiring will remain open. The minimum age to be a lifeguard is 15 years old. The American Red Cross lifeguard training classes are mandatory for all lifeguarding positions. Tucson Parks and Recreation offers classes to get certifications. 

The lifeguard class is an intense, fast-paced course and strong swim skills are required. Anyone interested who wants to practice can go to an open city pool and use the deep ends and lap lanes prior to taking the class. A waitlist is open online and participants will be contacted as classes become available. Sign up here.

Training includes:

  • American Red Cross CPR for the Professional Rescuer Certification
  • First Aid Basics
  • Lifeguard Certification
  • Swim test

By the end of training, lifeguards must be able to:

  • Swim a continuous 300-yard combination of freestyle and breast stroke (untimed).
  • Retrieve a 10-pound dive weight from 7 feet of water, rise to the surface, swim 20 yards with the weight using the legs only and then exit the pool without using a ladder. This must be done in 100 seconds.
  • Swim 500 yards including front crawl, breaststroke, elementary backstroke, and sidestroke.
  • 25-yard sprint 18 seconds or less.
  • Tread with 10-pound dive weight for 60 seconds using legs only
  • Enter deep water and surface dive to retrieve a 10-pound dive weight from 12 feet of water and bring it to the surface in 13 sec or less (11 seconds if you dive straight into deep water, but surface dive requirement is preferred).
  • Swim a 25-yard sidestroke while carrying 10-pound dive weight on hip in under two minutes (goal time is 1 minute, 20 seconds).

For those lacking the lifeguard certification, call (520) 791-4245 for information on where to get certified. The City of Tucson requires all employees, including lifeguards, to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by their scheduled start date. Apply online at Tucsonaz.gov/jobs.

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Tucson needs lifeguards for city pools and is bumping up pay to attract more.