Lifeguard shortages continue after COVID: ‘This is really a critical message’

Posted at 6:46 AM, Apr 11, 2024

RICHMOND, Va., — American Red Cross spokesperson Jonathan McNamara stands inside the Weinstein JCC pool and is surrounded by young swimmers and their instructors.

The classes at JCC off Monument Avenue are only possible with experienced and educated lifeguards at the facility.

“A good lifeguard is a passionate lifeguard. A lifeguard who understands the important role that they play in keeping the community safe. That's what this is about, is community safety, teaching preparedness information,” McNamara said.

McNamara shared that a scarcity of lifeguards continues to persist since COVID.

“We've seen, unfortunately, a real shortage in both lifeguards as well as swim instructors, not only here at facilities like JCC, but really across the state of Virginia and across the country,” he explained.

Memorial Day, or when pools typically open, is 46 days away. However, McNamara is putting out the plea for help now to get the attention of teens and college students.

“We know that a lot of high school students and college students are starting to think about what they're going to do for the Summer months for jobs. We want people to think of lifeguarding,” he stated. “It's a great way to not only make some money during the Summer months, but to make a real impact in the lives of local kids and local community members.”

Many lifeguards also serve as swim instructors at local pools. Not only do they supervise swimmers but are also tasked with teaching the next generation how to be safe in the water.

The Red Cross is urging people to apply to become lifeguards in order to keep their communities safe this Summer.

Those who go through Red Cross lifeguard trainingalso receive First Aid and CPR skills.

You’re encouraged to download the Red Cross app for more resources and to find a lifeguard class near you.

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