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3 Seattle beaches close for summer because of lifeguard shortage

Seattle Parks and Recreation is shuttering Matthews Beach, Seward Park Beach and East Green Lake Beach for the summer.

SEATTLE — Three Seattle area beaches will remain closed for the summer because of an ongoing lifeguard shortage, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) said in a release Tuesday.

SPR is shuttering Matthews Beach, Seward Park Beach and East Green Lake Beach for the summer. The department said Medgar Evers, Evans and Queen Anne pools will also remain closed for the summer, allowing for construction to be done in the area. Lifeguards at the sites will be re-directed to other beaches, SPR said.

The department said it did not hire enough trained and experienced lifeguards to keep all of its nine beaches and 10 pools open. There are 165 lifeguards currently on staff, but SPR said it needs around 425 to staff indoor and outdoor pools along with summer beaches.

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Parks and recreation officials said lifeguard positions are less than half-filled because of a lack of available certification training during the pandemic. A decrease in returning lifeguards because of pandemic-era layoffs and hiring freezes has further contributed to the department's staffing struggles, SPR said.

This is at least the second recent year cities in western Washington have faced a lifeguard shortage.

The department started recruiting lifeguards for the upcoming summer season in September 2021. Lifeguard certification classes were restarted in January 2022, with officials administering 11 courses this year. Seattle and Bellevue are offering free training and certification for lifeguards, too.

SPR started its teen training program at Rainier Beach Pool this year, redoubling efforts to combat widespread staffing issues. The department said on June 1 it hopes to hire another 200 lifeguards over the next few weeks. 

Beginning June 25, the following beaches will be guarded daily from 12-7 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. on weekends:

"We encourage all Seattleites and visitors to come out to these beaches for a safe and fun swim experience," SPR said.

Parks and recreation officials said the department considered drowning prevention, equity, geographic distribution and overall usage to keep pools open while closing others. 

Summer beaches, beginner swimming lessons, underserved communities and accessible public transit were the department's priorities this summer, SPR detailed in a release.

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