BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — When it comes to summertime, one of the first activities that comes to mind is swimming; however, this summer may look a little different for one district.

North Dakota is being hit with what Kevin Klipfel, the executive director for Bismarck Parks and Rec, calls a “national epidemic for outdoor pools.”
He owes this issue to the pandemic, and although not all North Dakota towns are currently being affected, the capitol city is feeling this shortage in full force.

According to officials with BPRD, they need forty more lifeguards to fully staff and safely open all the pools, so they will only be able to open the Hillside Aquatic Complex.

Here is a list of open pools in Bismarck.

Despite the shortage, Klipfel remains optimistic thanks to a new plan they are enacting this week.

Klipfel says, “You know, we had a lifeguard class last week, and we only had three people registered for it, but we did hold it, because those staff members are going to work for us this summer. We do have four more classes lined up, we just added another class yesterday, and one new thing that we’re rolling out this afternoon, we’ll be paying for that lifeguard certification upfront. We used to have the lifeguards pay for it upfront and then we reimbursed them after a certain amount of time with our district, but we’re going to just try to encourage more people to sign up. We’re going to waive that fee and try to get some people registered.”

Klipfel is hoping that, by adding this new incentive, there will be more interest in being a lifeguard, and they can open more of the pools.

But in the meantime, he wants to remind readers, “We do have a wide variety and a menu of activities going on this summer for anybody that’s interested, please come out and take a look and enjoy some of the activities and programs that we have to offer.”

Another pool that’s right across the river is set to open next week: Raging Rivers Waterpark. Raging Rivers supervisor Tyra Riepl says they’re mostly unaffected by the hiring shortage.

Riepl says, “we don’t have quite as many lifeguards as we usually do at this time, but it’s not anything that we’re concerned about. We have enough to staff safely, enough to be open at regular hours, and we expect that we’re gonna be hiring more staff in the next week or two, so we’re not too worried about it.”

Hopefully Mandan’s good luck rubs off on Bismarck, too.

If’ you’re interested in becoming a lifeguard or water safety instructor, or if you would like to see the full list of summer hours for Bismarck indoor and outdoor pools, click the link here.