New London needs lifeguards
Aquatic Center scaling back due to shortage
By Jim Paul
New London’s Aquatic and Fitness center is used by swim teams, school groups, families and seniors.
Despite being a popular destination for New London residents, the center has been forced to scale back operations due to a shortage of lifeguards.
“It makes me sick to my stomach to even close the doors for an hour because I don’t have a lifeguard,” said Supervisor Jim Thorpe. “It’s a good facility that gets used by lots of people.”
Even with a staff of 20 lifeguards, they are having a difficult time finding lifeguards who are available to work during the daytime hours.
Most of the lifeguards are high school students who only work nights and weekends,
The shortage problem began at the start of the school year, when many of high school staff went to college or full-time jobs.
During the day Thorpe only has four people that he can call upon to work. He needs at least three more lifeguards but five would be ideal.
To deal with the shortage, Thorpe, who is a certified lifeguard with over 20 year’s experience, often has to work as a lifeguard himself, taking him away from other duties at the center.
To be a lifeguard, persons need to be Red Cross certified but Thorpe says that certification is not required to apply for a position. The center will provide the training.
Interested persons do not have to be Olympic swimmers either, they only need to be 15 years old, be able to swim 12 laps, pick up a 10 pound brick from the bottom of the pool and tread water for two minutes.
The Red Cross certification class is 20 hours that takes about a week. It is done partially online and the in-water training is done over the course of three days at the center.
Lifeguards who are willing to work the opening shift or teach swimming lessons are offered bonus pay.
Thorpe said the position would be great for someone who is retired and looking for something to do during the day.
“During the day the job is basically a lot of socializing,” Thorpe said. “What the Red Cross teaches is we are here to prevent anything from happening, a lot of our rules and restrictions are here to prevent accidents. In my 21 years there have not been many serious accidents, if any.”
Those interested in becoming a lifeguard can apply at www.goverementjobs.com/careers/newlondonwi.