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Lifeguard shortages in Hampton Roads could limit how long you splash at the pool this summer

The 2020 pool season was almost nonexistent, and history may repeat itself if management companies can’t find more lifeguards to fill the stands.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Just about every industry is facing staffing shortages right now as pandemic restrictions end. That includes the pools you plan to visit this summer! 

The 2020 pool season was almost nonexistent, and history may repeat itself if management companies can’t find more lifeguards to fill the stands.  

“Normally, right now we’d have somewhere around 200 seasonal lifeguards on board; we are sitting at about 75,” said AAA Pool Services VP Jim Durkee. 

AAA Pool Services manages 50 pools around the area. The group also certifies lifeguards.

Durkee said the lifeguard applicant pool is the smallest he’s ever seen. 

“Not only do you have to find a body, but you have to find somebody with the swimming ability and knowledge to get through the certification class,” Durkee said. 

The shortage could change how long you can splash around this summer. 

Without a full guard staff, leaders at Mallory Country Club in Norfolk might have to cut back their hours or limit where you swim.

“I think what our first thought is, is to maybe close part of the pool if we had to,” said Club President Andrea Moore. “We could close the deep end and keep the shallow end open.” 

The average lifeguard certification costs about $200, but both AAA Pool Services and the YMCA are giving classes for free!  

The Y asks that those that complete the certification work for them. AAA doesn’t have that stipulation. 

“If you have pretty good fundamental basic swimming schools, we would take you through the class,” said YMCA COO Adam Kahrl. “We would certify you in lifeguarding, first aid, AED, and oxygen.”

Kahrl said certification takes about 30 hours. They need 200 lifeguards, or they may also have to shorten hours.   

“We are open to have people guard of any age,” Kahrl said. “We have had people retired that say hey I’d like to stay engaged in the community.”

Both companies are offering competitive pay. AAA starts new guards at $10 an hour, with the opportunity to get to $15. The YMCA is running seasonal pay.  

“We are starting them at $11.25, that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day,” Kahrl said.

As schools let out, both companies hope more students come to the rescue.  

“We can get people up and running very quickly and we will be offering classes throughout the summer,” Durkee said. 

Interested applicants can reach AAA at the email AAAlifegaurds@gmail.com or call 757-499-5852. You can also contact the YMCA by texting the word "work" to 1-833-222-2118, to get a link to the form.

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