PHOENIX – As the climate warms up and COVID-19 restrictions ease, swimming swimming pools throughout the nation are re-opening however discovering sufficient lifeguards to assist shield swimmers is popping out to be troublesome.
Lifeguarding is one other a kind of professions hit exhausting by the pandemic after gyms, waterparks, seashores, and group swimming pools had been compelled to shut down. Demand is now increased than ever, however the pool of candidates simply isn’t there.
Jocelyn Ramey a seasoned lifeguard of 4 years isn’t any stranger to busy days in the solar. This summer time she’ll be working for the Life Time, health chain which has greater than 150 places in 41 North American cities.
“I really value the first responder aspects and always being on my toes, as well as enforcing the rules and keeping our members safe,” stated Ramey.
The begin date for Ramey was slightly delayed as a result of COVID however she’s again on the pool now. Across the nation, hundreds of lifeguards had been furloughed as a result of pandemic. Many deciding to take up new profession paths. Pools nationwide are attempting to remain afloat with the employees they at the moment have as new candidates aren’t precisely diving in.
“It’s an important role, I really do want to see more people coming back to it,” stated Wyatt Werneth, National Spokesperson for the American Lifeguard Associations, Inc.
The affiliation (ALA) helps prepare and certify new lifeguards throughout the nation. The group claims there are a number of causes for the scarcity. First, lifeguard coaching and certification packages are backlogged as a result of COVID-19 canceled courses.
“It takes quite a while to train the lifeguards, they go through an extensive training period,” stated Werneth who famous that the social distancing guidelines compelled the cancelation of coaching periods.
“We couldn’t get in close quarters obviously or get out and train, and we have to train in pools, we have to grab people and pull them and learn how to handle swimmers, it’s up close and personal,” Werneth stated in explaining the coaching backlog.
The excellent news added Werneth, is that “now things are starting to open back up we’re having to train them now”
Adding to the scarcity is COVID journey restrictions have restricted the quantity of seasonal school and international alternate college students. Remote studying means many college students are staying residence. The majority of lifeguards are high faculty via college-aged.
In addition, older lifeguards and swimming instructors are retiring early. Some of the older guards could also be at a better threat of contracting the virus forcing the retirements.
However, Werneth additionally admits that curiosity in lifeguarding is declining which makes it troublesome to facilitate 309,000 swimming pools throughout the nation. While the ALA has been providing lifeguard programs for greater than 30 years, this yr’s scarcity has made it “a task trying to get these guys out, trying to get them trained and get them ready to go.”
Life Time is without doubt one of the largest employers of aquatic professionals with roughly 3,000-4,000 lifeguards nationwide at 110 of its well being golf equipment. Typically the chain will have greater than 10 million visits to their swimming pools every summer time.
“The lifeguard shortage is very real, especially here in the Phoenix market, because we’re opening up all of our pools right now,” stated Jackie Flores Regional Aquatics Manager at Life Time.
“We are doing a big marketing play via social media, and we’re hoping to advertise some of the benefits of being a team member at Life Time including a complimentary membership, paid trainings, and best of all they don’t need any experience to be a team member with us, we’ll teach you how to do everything,” stated Flores.
For anybody in changing into a lifeguard, first, it’s essential to get licensed. It requires about 30 hours of coaching and passing a swim take a look at is required. Most swimming pools, together with Life Time, will present the coaching in case you are employed.
The American Lifeguard Association needs to remind everybody to all the time swim close to a lifeguard, test the climate situations in your space, and naturally, study to swim.