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Las Cruces pools face lifeguard shortage in 2018 swimming season

Summer is here and so is swimming season, but Las Cruces is experiencing a lifeguard shortage similar to other cities nationwide.

If you go to a Las Cruces pool and look around, you’ll see lifeguards on duty watching over swimmers. When it comes to their staff of 35, managers say they’re not enough.

“A perfect situation would be between 42, 45, 48, somewhere around there,” explained Abraham Celaya, Aquatics Facility Manager in Las Cruces.

The City of Las Cruces is pretty close to “dangerous levels” if a handful of lifeguards quit. “If I go below 28, I’m in trouble,” Celaya said.

While many may be able to hold their own in the water, actually being a lifeguard takes a lot more than just being able to jump in the pool without drowning.

“You have to swim a 300. You do a 100 meter breast, 100 meter freestyle, and the last 100 is whichever you feel most comfortable with. The second part of that is treading water for two minutes without using your hands,” Celaya said.

“You have to be able to jump in and grab a person – say a child – who is drowning or a person having a heart attack in the water, give CPR if needed,” said Head Lifeguard Sarah Phillips.

With a higher minimum wage in Las Cruces, more comfortable summer jobs can be found for not much less.

“Their places are climate controlled so you don’t have to ask these guys to sit out in 102 degree weather for eight hours and have people’s lives in their hands,” Celaya explained.

With high stress conditions many lifeguards leave their jobs, and it that happens enough it could lead to overtime and emergency hires.

Again there are enough lifeguards on staff for the season and hiring is closed.

It would only be opened back up for those already certified in a case of emergency.

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