3 Seattle Beaches Closed For Summer Swims, Due To Lifeguard Shortage

SEATTLE — Seattle will open just six of nine guarded beaches this summer, citing a shortage of trained and experienced lifeguards on staff.

Seattle Parks and Recreation confirmed its summer plans this week, showing all but three beaches staffed with lifeguards daily, beginning June 25. In a news release, the city said it had intended to reopen all nine beaches, but difficulty securing enough staffing made the goal unfeasible.

Earlier in the week, parks officials told The Seattle Times that fewer than 200 lifeguards were currently employed — less than half of the 420 staffers typically working for the season. Similar hurdles kept two beaches closed last year. This summer, lifeguard shortages will keep Matthews Beach, Seward Park Beach and East Green Lake Beach closed to swimmers.

The city said it was able to keep six beaches open by redirecting lifeguards that usually work at the Medgar Evers, Evans and Queen Anne pools, which will be closed this summer for planned construction work. The Rainier Beach, Ballard, Meadowbrook, Madison, Southwest, Colman and Mounger pools will remain open.

Here are the lifeguarded beaches open for summer 2022 (starting June 25):

(All beaches are staffed from 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. on weekends)

  • Madison Beach, 1900 43rd Ave. E
  • Madrona Beach, 853 Lake Washington Blvd.
  • Magnuson Beach, park entrance at NE 65th and Sand Point Way NE
  • Mt. Baker Beach, 2301 Lake Washington Blvd. S
  • Pritchard Beach, 8400 55th Ave. S
  • West Green Lake Beach, 7312 W Green Lake Dr.

The lifeguard staffing problem isn’t unique to Emerald City, and nationally, about a third of pools either won’t open or will limit hours due to lifeguard shortages, American Lifeguard Association Director Bernard J. Fisher II told Newsweek in March.

“Regretfully, it’s probably going to be the worst summer,” he said. “We have 309,000 public pools in the U.S. but we don’t have the youth in the ratio to the population.”

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed, as it has regarding labor shortages in other aspects of life. But with lifeguards, it’s more complicated than that. The pandemic meant fewer training opportunities both to become lifeguards and to recertify, Fisher told NPR this month.

In Puget Sound, Renton has also struggled to recruit lifeguards and will not be able to staff the beaches at Gene Coulon and Kennydale this summer, The Seattle Times reported. Kirkland was able to keep full operations running, and Bellevue added bonus incentives and increased base hourly pay.

Seattle is still hoping to hire more lifeguards this year, and hourly wages start at $19.51. Applicants must be at least 16 years old and have the proper certifications.

Source: Bellevue Patch