Central Michigan communities find solutions to lifeguard shortage

JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) – Cities in central Michigan are gearing up for a busy summer at their community pools. Hopefully they will have the staff to keep these pools open.

For years it has been difficult to get people to sign up to become a lifeguard, in part because of the training it requires. Today, many places are thinking of new ways to entice people to register without sacrificing security.

“We’re asking these people to be out there to protect people’s lives,” said Brian Collins, Ingham County Parks Assistant Superintendent.

There is a growing shortage of people looking to be lifeguards, especially as community pools begin to reopen.

Lansing YMCA regional water sports director Theresa Sheridan said the problem has only gotten worse during the pandemic.

“Because we didn’t train for a while, we missed an entire year of staff training, which made things a little more difficult,” Sheridan said.

The City of Jackson is looking to partner with the Jackson Y to help fill positions after the Nixon Pool closed for the past two summers due to COVID.

“We don’t want to compete for the number of people who have lifeguard certifications. This is a rare certification to have. It’s a specific group of people,” said City of Jackson spokesman Aaron Dimick.

The Jackson Y now trains lifeguards and they cover the cost of lifeguard training, which is about $150.

Ingham County started paying for lifeguard training last year, and Collins said it’s working.

“We really focused on training. With us providing the training, not only do we know exactly what they are being trained in, but it incentivizes people to not have to pay,” Collins said.

The Lansing Y provides lifeguards to public swimming pools in Lansing. It also offers free training for lifeguards.

Sheridan also plans to recruit more than summer students.

“I look at part of our elderly population and retirees. A lot of them are doing my morning shifts right now for us,” Sheridan said.

Communities tell News 10 they hope they can recruit enough lifeguards to keep everything open without cutting hours.

Ingham County Parks will open swimming on Memorial Day weekend.

Jackson plans to open the Nixon Pool on June 20.

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