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YMCA addressing lifeguard shortage

Posted at 11:40 AM, Jun 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-27 11:40:44-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The YMCA of South Palm Beach County is asking for help to recruit lifeguards and swim instructors. They say if they can’t find enough, they will have to cut back on their offerings.

The American Lifeguard Association said shortages in the industry can range between 40% - 50% depending on geographic locations.

This lifeguard shortage is forcing many to reduce their offerings at beaches, pools, resorts, and waterparks.

According to The Alantic, there have been lifeguard shortages every May and June since the 1930s. Each decade the shortages where blamed on different reasons.

1950s - Parents didn't want their kids to make more than $500 so they could still claim them as dependents on their taxes.

1980s - Not enough teens

1988 - "Kids now days have too much money."

2000s - iPhones were expensive so teens looked to higher paying jobs

2020 - Affects of the coronavirus pandemic

2023 - Teens don't want to to be away from their mobile devices as required when lifeguarding

The YMCA of South Palm Beach County said they are hoping to recruit more lifeguards so they don't have to limit their current offerings and programs.

"I think a number of factors come to [the lifeguard shortage]. It's just one of those jobs that used to be predominantly for teenagers, younger adults and even retirees. But as the pandemic it really changed how people looked at the entire role of being a lifeguard. So YMCA is trying to address it as best we possibly can. If anyone's interested in becoming a lifeguard or swim instructor, please reach out to your local YMCA," said Jason Hagensick, President & CEO of the YMCA of South Palm Beach County.

Jeff Burgazzoli, Lead Adaptive Swim Instructor for the YMCA of South Palm Beach County said their work is important, "We're saving lives on a daily basis. And we're trying to serve this critical need in and around the water."

"If we had a 'Bat Signal' we'd be shooting it up in the sky right now to implore people to come join us for this critical need both instructors and lifeguards," said Burgazzoli.

The YMCA can do lifeguard training in weekend with two eight-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday.

"Anybody can [be a lifeguard[. If you're passionate about swimming and are passionate about saving people's lives... the YMCA and come join us," said Leesa Llompart who is the Aquatics Coordinator at the YMCA of South PBC.