PEMBROKE PINES – Free training, pay starting at $16.05 and probably a lot of sunshine – that’s the promise for becoming a lifeguard in Pembroke Pines.
And applicants are desperately needed to keep pools open.
“I usually teach kids how to swim, so I’ll teach young kids from 6 months to however old,” said Adam Carcacg, a lifeguard at Pembroke Pines YMCA Aquatic Center.
Carcacg started there four years ago.
“We’re short a lot from when I first started working here. We had an abundance of lifeguards, but now we have barely any.”
That’s part of the reason why Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angel Castillo has been recruiting young people to help.
“We need you to come forward if you can swim and you have a weekend to get certified at the YMCA which they’ll do for free,” he explained.
In Pembroke Pines, there are 10 openings. The shortage has led to one community pool closure, the Walden Lake Pool, with two other pools only opened on weekends instead of daily.
“Listen, Broward County and Dade County alternate unfortunately between the counties in the United States with the most drownings, we have to have a lifeguard at every city pool facility, for liability reasons, but also for safety,” Commissioner Castillo explained.
The YMCA also has at least one closure in Fort Lauderdale.
“The L.A. Lee pool is currently closed due to the shortage of lifeguards,” Caden Devitian, a YMCA lifeguard, told CBS4.
Elsewhere there’s a strain on swim programs.
“We allow anyone who’s interested to try out for the swim test. That swim test includes a 300-yard swim, a 50-yard retrieval and then a two-minute tread,” explained Devitian. “As long as the applicants are able to complete that, we offer full lifeguard course free of charge and even a job after if you’re interested.”
It’s not exactly clear why there’s a drop in workers. The trend had become notable earlier in the pandemic, but this year, without willing applicants, some pools may have to stay closed.