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Everybody in the Pool: New Wave for Retirement Employment… Lifeguarding

For seniors looking to earn some extra money while staying cool during the summer, there is one new avenue few might have considered opening up older Americans: The local pool.

Working as a lifeguard, once thought as a job mostly for high school and college students, is apparently no longer quite the draw to millennials it once was. Many community pools across the U.S. have temporarily closed at points during because there aren’t enough younger lifeguards.

In Harrisburg, Virginia, one community pool delayed its opening until July because they didn’t have the requisite number of lifeguards to cover their two pools. Jackie Parker, the city’s Director of Community and Economic Development says the reason for the lack of lifeguards was that applicants drop out during their certification testing.

According to NPR’s Marketplace, one of the reasons lifeguarding is no longer as attractive a summer job is because of the “no cellphone” policy. Since lifeguarding requires eyes to be on the water at all times, younger workers can’t have their phone on them during the stand. For many teens and college aged kids, that crosses the line as many spend up to six hours a day glued to their phones according to new research.

With these reasons in mind, more community pools are looking instead to hire seniors who are in decent shape to work the lifeguard stand.  

In Austin, Texas, Kimberly McNeeley of the city’s Aquatics Department, came up with the idea to urge seniors to work as lifeguards. The “no cellphone” policy, which repels youth from wanting to be lifeguards, doesn’t prove to be a problem for the most seniors.

In an interview with Market Place, 85-year-old swimming instructor and lifeguard Ed Myers says that he will leave his phone in his car or locker while swimming.

Another plus for seniors is that lifeguard certification has become simpler. Previously, candidates had to be able to swim 300 yards. Now, applicants only need to swim 50 yards to be certified if they are able to stand in a pool.

The idea to hire older Americans has been boosted by the American Lifeguard Association, which says that seniors are responsible enough to handle the position.

Lifeguard Myers, who spent his life trying to climb the corporate ladder, says lifeguarding “has given him everything he wanted and a little more.”