OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (WTNH) – Town Beach in Old Saybrook is one of two beaches owned by the town. Old Saybrook, like other cities, towns, and even the state, is having a bit of a challenge hiring new lifeguards to fill the lifeguard chairs.
Old Saybrook has about 15 lifeguards now, but ideally, they would have 16 to 20.
Rocky Neck and Hammonasset are both fully staffed right now, but the six other state-owned beaches, two along the shoreline and four inland, still need lifeguards in order to staff them, otherwise, it will be swim at your own risk. Here is a list of the other beaches:
- Black Rock State Park, Watertown
- Burr Pond State Park, Torrington
- Indian Well State Park, Shelton
- Sherwood Island State Park, Westport
- Silver Sands State Park, Milford
- Squantz Pond State Park, New Fairfield
To help with recruitment, the state has raised the starting pay for lifeguards from $16 to $19 an hour.
“This is your summer to be a lifeguard, you lifeguard wannabes. Let’s go,” Governor Ned Lamont recently said at a press conference to kick off the summer season at state parks. “The pay is okay but look at your office. Not bad.”
“We have increased it to a starting rate of $19 an hour,” said Sarah Battistini, Water Safety Coordinator for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
The lifeguards now in training at Hammonasset State Park bring the numbers up to around sixty but the state needs one hundred lifeguards to be fully staffed.
“We guarantee 40 hours a week,” said Battistini. “We work one shift only. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.”
The state provides 80 hours of training which is all paid.
“I love being outside, working with my squad, and interacting with the public and overall just helping people,” said Emma Vlaun who is the secondary supervisor at Rocky Neck State Park.
The push is really on now to fill the lifeguard positions because the better staffing they have now the better off they’ll be in years to come. A lot of the lifeguards return year after year.
Ocean Beach Park in New London which also trains its own lifeguards has now hired 18 but needs 12 more.
“I’ve had a few towns call me and see if we had any extra lifeguards,” said Ray Allen, Director of Old Saybrook Parks and Recreation. “I know everyone’s hurting right now.”
“Once our college kids go back to school, second, third week in August, I’m sure we’ll have a little more gaps in coverage,” said Allen.
If you want to work at a state beach though you have to apply by June 17th. That’s because the state hopes to have everyone trained before the busy July 4th weekend.