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Lifeguard shortage could impact summer activities

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION-TV) – Another nationwide shortage is making waves and experts warn this one could be dangerous.

The American Lifeguard Association reports a national lifeguard shortage could impact many over 300-thousand pools.

The organization said around a third to nearly a half of the pools will likely be affected.

Experts blame several issues for the shortage, including low pay, training costs, a limited working season and a lack of interest from teens compounded by the pandemic.

Anna Banda came to sign her grandkids up for swim lessons. As a grandparent, water safety is a big deal for her.

"My mother had four nephews that passed away in Texas because they didn't know how to swim," said Banda. "That's the utmost important for me for my grandchildren, is to have swim lessons."

Gary Anderson offers both lifeguard training and instructor classes throughout California. He said the pandemic impacted people who just got their lifeguard certification two years ago. During those two years, their certifications expired.

"It's a whole mess of timing that has really affected the amount of people that have come back and the amount of people that are out there now," said Gary Anderson with West Coast Lifeguard. "We keep trying to crank out as many guards as we can and get the decks filled because a lot of people are having a hard time finding people."

It's not just finding lifeguards. Anderson told KION that finding instructors is also a challenge. Anderson adds it's not easy to be a lifeguard because there are certain requirements that need to be met.

He explains that potential lifeguards need to be able to swim 300 yards, either freestyle or breaststroke, without stopping at any pace. They would also need to swim 20 yards, get a 10 pounds brick, 7 to 10 feet down, and bring it back up and climb out of the pool.

Banda said the national lifeguard shortage is a concern for her. But Anderson said families should not be too worried about the need but know their limits regarding the water.

"Be very careful if they are around water with children that don't know how to swim," said Anderson, "Especially if you're in the ocean or the lake."

West Coast Lifeguard will offer lifeguard training classes in Monterey and Hollister this month.

KION checked in with one of our pool facilities here.

The YMCA told KION it's staffed at both facilities but expects to need more lifeguards in August when college students return to school.

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Ana Torrea

Weekend Anchor/Reporter for KION News Channel 5/46

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