As Rifle Metro Pool edges closer to season opener, more lifeguards still needed: City of Rifle still accepting lifeguard applicants
Cool dips on bright, sunny days at the Rifle Metro Pool soon make a triumphant return as the city prepares to open the community asset on Memorial Day Weekend.
“We’re very excited,” Rifle Recreation Program Manager Austin Rickstrew said on Friday.
But as opening day closes in, remnants of the pool’s ongoing lifeguard shortage continue to linger.
Summer 2021 presented some of the most unique circumstances any given recreation department has faced. Lifeguard positions are traditionally filled by local high school students, but COVID-19 delayed organized sports schedules and ultimately kept part of this workforce from poolside duties.
In addition to COVID-19-induced delays, the Rifle Metro Pool is a relatively new $8 million facility that replaced the former and smaller Art Dague Pool. This meant the city needed to hire more lifeguards since the facility more than doubled in size.
By summer 2021, Rickstrew said Rifle’s pool had 35 lifeguards overseeing aquatic activities. So far this year the city has hired 59 lifeguards.
“We’re not where we need to be, but we’re better than last year,” Rickstrew said. “So that’s a positive.”
Three scheduled shifts rotate daily at Rifle Metro Pool. Meanwhile, first-year hires are paid $13 an hour, and are paid slightly more when they run swim lessons.
Right now, the Rifle Metro Pool is still short about 11 lifeguards. This means regular hours of operation will commence as normal. The only thing is, some lifeguards might be asked to come in earlier in the day to cover duties like swimming lessons.
“We don’t want to burn anybody out. This is not our goal,” Rickstrew said. “We want this to be a fun summer job.”
Rickstrew said the pool is still hiring.
“We’re always looking at pay scales,” he said. “but the one thing we provide is a flexible schedule.”
The Rifle Metro Pool can be reached at 970-665-6571.
Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com
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