FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — With schools being released for the summer, pools have become a hotspot, but with an ongoing lifeguard shortage, some pools have had to alter their hours or even close the pools altogether.
“Without the lifeguards, we can’t really function,” Charlotte Auth said.
According to the American Lifeguard Association, the shortage affects about a third of public pools across the country. Places like the YMCA in Frederick County have had to make adjustments.
“It has been a bit challenging. It’s meant that I’ve spent more time actively on the pullback, lifeguarding teaching swim lessons, and less time doing the administrative work of my job,” aquatics director Samm Meddaugh said.
The shortage also means this YMCA must cut back on or even cancel some swimming classes and camps.
“Because our priority is to keep the pools open and to keep pools safely open as much as we can,” Meddaugh said.
“We have practiced here almost every day and we have two practices a week downtown,” Matteo Rojas said. “A lifeguard shortage might mean that we can’t practice.”
Other counties throughout the DMV have raised wages and offered free lifeguard classes to lure more applicants.
“We’ve transitioned from a model where we used to have people take the lifeguard course at a cost and then get hired and be reimbursed and we’ve now started offering the classes for free,” Meddaugh said.
The American Lifeguard Association says the shortage could extend into next year.