YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Warm weather is here and that means going to the pool, but lifeguards are in short supply.
The American Lifeguard Association warns that a third to nearly half of the nation’s 300,000 pools are expected to be impacted, prompting closures, delayed openings and reduced hours.
Youngstown’s Northside Pool will open on time this year. It’s the first time it will happen in more than 30 years. That’s because the Youngstown Lifeguard Academy has new recruits.
“It’s a blessing to have that opportunity, having the amount of lifeguards that we have right now,’ said Caleb Hicks, Youngstown Lifeguard Academy commander.
Twelve lifeguards are already set to work. Around 20 more will be trained. Not only will they be working at Northside Pool, but they will also work at Youngstown’s YMCA and Jewish Community Center.
“Both of them have indoor pools that they’re operating and they still need lifeguards,” said Kevin Tarpley, Youngstown Lifeguard Academy coach.
Next year, the academy is planning to send lifeguards to Cincinnati. They would work at pools around the city and possibly help start a Cincinnati lifeguard academy. Tarpley says the program can expand outside of Ohio and bring many benefits to Youngstown.
“This means dollars in terms of young people having money to return to school. It means dollars in terms of city taxes, so the city would have benefitted from that,” Tarpley said.
Tarpley’s goal is to have academy lifeguards working around the country, saying it will help prepare them for adult life.
Lifeguard Aaron Medina says the academy’s work goes beyond the pool.
“Not only are we providing a safe place, but we’re providing freedom and break from everyday life and everyday trauma,” he said.
North Side Pool is opening next week.