What lifeguard shortage? Naperville beach well-staffed this summer

Naperville beach
Naperville's Centennial Park is a going concern this summer. Photo credit Rachel Pierson

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — While pools across Chicago remain closed due to staffing shortages, it’s a much different story in the western suburbs.

Centennial Beach in Naperville has been packed with people since it opened Memorial Day weekend.

“We did hit capacity here, which is 2,000 people, on Memorial Day,” Brett Sprague, aquatics manager at the Naperville Park District, said. “It was awesome to see, especially after two years of dealing with COVID and smaller crowds.”

On any given weekday, Centennial Beach will see between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors.

While other park districts have struggled to hire lifeguards for the summer season, Sprague says they’re well-staffed.

“We definitely saw slow applications coming in this year, but really, from a staffing standpoint, we're in a good position,” he said. “We make sure to pay [lifeguards] well, we give them overtime and we reward them throughout the season.”

girls at swimming beach
Brett Sprague's daughters, Cassidy and Morgan Sprague, enjoy the swimming at Centennial Beach in Naperville. Photo credit Rachel Pierson

The majority of lifeguard recruits come from word of mouth, he said.

“A lot of our new lifeguards this year are friends of current lifeguards or family members of current lifeguards who have said, ‘Hey, this is a great place to work. It's unique, it's fun. It's gonna be a great experience, come and work here with me.’”

With large crowds expected to continue throughout the summer, the Naperville Park District said it won’t have to close any attractions.

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