(WFXR) — Swimming pools across the country are preparing to reopen for the summer, but one thing is becoming increasingly harder to come by: lifeguards.
There was already a lifeguard shortage before the pandemic, but the coronavirus has heightened the issue.
According to the American Lifeguard Association, there are a few reasons why there’s a shortage across the country:
- Lifeguard training and certification programs are backlogged because the pandemic resulted in class cancellations. Plus, certification programs — like American Red Cross Training — can cost up to $275.
- Travel restrictions have limited the number of seasonal college and foreign exchange students.
- Older lifeguards and swimming instructors are retiring early.
- Overall interest is declining.
Wyatt Werneth, the national spokesperson for American Lifeguard Association, Inc., said, “309,000 pools that we’re trying to facilitate with the shortage here and this is a task, trying to get these guys out, try to get them trained and get them ready to go. It’s really kind of, you know, slowing things down for everyone getting back to normal.”
The American Lifeguard Association has been offering lifeguard courses for more than 30 years. If you want to become a lifeguard, you will have to get certified first, which requires about 30 hours of training and a swim test. In fact, most pools will provide the training for free.
Before you go swimming, though, the American Lifeguard Association wants to remind everyone to always swim near a lifeguard. Also, check the weather conditions in your area if you plan on swimming outside so you don’t get caught in the rain.