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Shortage of lifeguards having Columbus-area pools looking for help

Both City of Columbus and YMCA say the need more people to patrol its pools.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The struggle to find lifeguards continues into this year as pools in the Columbus are sending out calls to people who enjoy getting paid to sit in the sun and patrol the waters.

The YMCA of Central Ohio said it needs 120 lifeguards for its 12 pools, six of which are outdoor pools.

"120 does sound staggering. We have enough to get by. We want to put some meat on the bones for backups," says Chris Tamasovich, association executive director of aquatics for YMCA.

The City of Columbus is also looking for swimmers to join its life guard ranks. The city has eight outdoor pools.

"Right now, we have about 60 lifeguards who have agreed to help us and we need another 60 to help us staff our pools this summer," said Stephanie Garling of Columbus Recreations and Parks.

Last year, many pools in the area had to either close, reduce hours or limit the number people who could enter the pool because of a lack of staffing.

The City of Columbus and the YMCA say they've been actively recruiting at high schools and colleges trying to convince kids to take up lifeguarding not only as a job but as a career path into the health profession.

Emma Van Hoose, a 19-year-old woman who attends Columbus State Community College, said lifeguarding is helping her pursue a degree in the health field. 

"Being in EMS, it gave me first aid training. I get to see real-life situations...so it's a real-world experience for me to become an EMT," she said.

Being a lifeguard isn't just for those in high school or college. Pools are also recruiting seniors who are looking to stay active to help with lifeguard duties, such as Ricky Harley who was once a lifeguard from 1998 to 2003. 

"I missed the kids; I missed teaching them how to swim," he said.

Harley also has a message for those who may think they're too old for the job.

 "I would tell them to come on out. Join the team, it's easy work," Harley said. 

The hourly rate for a lifeguard is currently between $12 to $16 an hour depending on your experience level.

You can learn more about applying for a lifeguard at the YMCA of Central Ohio here or you can stop by the City of Columbus Aquatic Center at 1160 Hunter Avenue in Columbus to begin the application process.

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