(WETM) – Local beaches and pools are still in need of lifeguards for this upcoming summer, though the COVID-induced shortage doesn’t look quite as grim as the last two years.
Watkins Glen Parks and Event Center Manager Craig Bond said that there are currently three lifeguard applicants for the Seneca Lake beach in Clute Park. In order for the beach to open, he will need two more, and he wants to open the beach by Memorial Day weekend.
“The next two weeks are crucial for us,” Bond told 18 News. If the Village can’t get five lifeguards, the beach will have to close for the rest of the season.
Still, this is better than last summer. By August 2021, the Watkins Glen Beach at Clute Park beach had been closed for the entire season. Bond said only two lifeguards applied last year.
In Corning, Parks and Recreation Director Alex Hamilton said the City’s pools are in a similar situation. As of May 10, Hamilton said he had 15 committed lifeguards for the season, but he was looking to secure five to eight more. He said that if the Denison Park Pool and the Stewart Pool have to open with just the 15 lifeguards, hours and programs will have to be cut. Even with 20, Hamilton said it would be “bare minimum, and that’s with no one having any time off.”
“The biggest thing is that for a couple years, several [lifeguards] weren’t certified because they weren’t doing in-person,” Bond said. “And the ability to teach what to do if somebody’s passed out, when you couldn’t your mouth to anybody else’s or even a doll’s… With them being out of circulation for two years in a row, that’s the trouble. A whole generation of kids haven’t been certified.”
The Red Cross has also allowed for fully in-person training this year, Hamilton added.
Hamilton and Bond both said that local high schools, including Watkins Glen, Odessa Montour, and Corning-Painted Post are all offering lifeguard certification courses. The City of Corning will also be offering courses at a later date.