CT communities struggle to find enough lifeguards for summer season due to pandemic

New London

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Many are expected to hit the beaches this Memorial Day weekend but will they be swimming at their own risk? A lifeguard shortage has been seen all along the east coast.

The state has 110 lifeguard positions to fill this year. Right now it’s at 62 percent.

“68, we have 68 currently,” said Will Healey, of the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

So what does that mean for the state’s 22 swimming areas?

“We believe that we will be able to successfully staff six of our swimming area locations which includes all four of the shoreline state parks,” said Healey.

In a typical year the state staffs eight. Some locations will be partially staffed.

“In those situations we would operate swimming areas, our guarded swimming areas, on a reduced hours schedule,” said Healey.

Swimming areas with no guards at all will be posted and people will have to swim at their own risk.

“We have not been able to open the pool yet because we don’t have enough lifeguards,” said Kerry Sullivan, Program Director of Waterford Recreation & Parks.

Despite that Waterford is one of the luckier communities because it does have enough staff for the town beach. When pools closed during the pandemic so did the pool of certified lifeguards.

“The kids who work for us at the beach work at the pool in the offseason and due to COVID they got other jobs,” said Sullivan.

Another reason some places have had a hard time getting certified lifeguards is because during the pandemic pools were closed so lifeguards were not able to get their recertification. Here in Waterford they say they have gotten calls form lifeguards as far away as Greenwich and Waterbury who wanted to come here now for their recertification.

“I tend to have more than a lot of the other towns and so if I can help them I will like Norwich I know was looking,” said Sullivan.

We’re told Norwich’s Spaulding Pond is now fully staffed. But there are still many beaches where signs saying ‘No Lifeguard on Duty’ may be up for a while.

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