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Addressing the lifeguard shortage: YMCA offers to pay for training

lifeguard shortage
Posted at 5:56 PM, Mar 06, 2022

CLEVELAND — With a weekend of warmer temperatures, dreams of days on the beach and sitting in the sun are inching closer to becoming a reality. However, those at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland told News 5 they’re still dealing with an ongoing lifeguard shortage and fewer lifeguard certifications.

The impact behind fewer of these certifications, which typically last for two years, is already being seen.

Last summer, Lake Metroparks went as far as announcing that Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park would be without lifeguards on Tuesdays and Wednesdays because of a lack of lifeguards. This summer, Lake Metroparks will reimburse any lifeguard who spends the entire summer at the park for their class.

Phillip Hearne serves as aquatic director at the Hillcrest Family YMCA, part of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland, and told News 5 that there were moments last year where they had limited hours because of a lack of staffing.

Hearne said they’re now going as far as covering the cost for these certifications, which can cost several hundred dollars to obtain, to bring in the next generation of lifeguards and shorten their current waitlist for swim lessons.

“To make it accessible, we are removing barriers,” he said. “A lot of rec centers, a lot of places make you pay for your certification to work for them, whereas we are waiving or reimbursing that lifeguard class fee if you come and work for us.”

Anyone interested in learning how to become a lifeguard can learn more by clicking here.