A lack of applicants caused the city of Kent to cancel its lifeguard program this summer at Lake Meridian Park. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

A lack of applicants caused the city of Kent to cancel its lifeguard program this summer at Lake Meridian Park. COURTESY PHOTO, City of Kent

City of Kent lifeguard program canceled again at Lake Meridian

Lack of applicants for jobs that offered $20 to $25 per hour; 4th consecutive year without lifeguards

For the fourth consecutive summer, no lifeguards will be on duty at Lake Meridian Park in Kent.

“Despite our best efforts to recruit, due to a shortage of lifeguards in Kent and across the nation, the beach at Lake Meridian Park will not have lifeguards on duty this summer season,” according to a city statement.

The city in February posted openings for lifeguards with pay of $20 to $25 per hour depending on experience. The hours would vary, but could be up to 40 hours per week from mid-June through Labor Day, according to the city.

Despite the higher pay offer, not enough people applied. The Parks Department needs 16 to 20 lifeguards to run the program. The program previously offered pay of $16 per hour.

The city also canceled the lifeguard program in 2022 and 2021 due to a lack of applicants. The city took away lifeguards in 2020 at the Lake Meridian beach because of budget cutbacks due to COVID-19. The City Council put the program back in the budget the last few years.

Lake Meridian Park is at 14800 SE 272nd St.

National shortage

According to a June 7 report on National Public Radio (npr.org), the American Lifeguard Association noted that there are more than 309,000 public pools and more than half of them are being closed or having a reduction in hours.

Wyatt Werneth, the national spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Association, told the atlantic.com that, after the pandemic arrived, people who might otherwise be lifeguard candidates began opting for jobs that could be done at home, such as “the influencing and social media and stuff like that.”

Free life vests

The city will offer a free life vest loaner program at Lake Meridian to help residents swim safely. Life vests are available to check out from the Kent Commons Community Center, 525 Fourth Ave. N. Vests can be checked out for the day or the entire summer.

Life vests are available on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information, call Kent Commons at 253-856-5100.

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