Could New Incentives Attract Lifeguards?

Could New Incentives Attract Lifeguards?

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The pool of applicants for lifeguards at Watertown's city pools is looking slim. The city needs at least 20 lifeguards to man its 2 pools at the Fairgrounds and North Elementary. And while a few lifeguards will be returning, so far there are only 10 new applicants.

"Only one of them have their certification so and a lot of them this is their first job, they've never had a job before, they've never life guarded before," said Erin Gardner, superintendent of the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

While the city will hire some of those candidates, it is looking for people with some experience.  One of the ideas is to target teachers.

"A lot of teachers have summers off; we can be very flexible with scheduling and those teachers already have the experience of keeping a classroom under control, so we figure they would probably do a pretty good job keeping a pool under control," said Gardner.

Gardner is hoping some new incentives this season may help attract candidates.

"So do you think if more hours were available you might get more applicants," asked City Council Member Lisa Ruggiero during Monday's council meeting. "Absolutely," said Gardner replied.

As part of budget talks, city council approved extending pool hours by a few hours from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.  That means the city could give lifeguards 8 hour shifts.

Plus starting this season, lifeguards will be making more money. New lifeguards will make $12.75 an hour, head lifeguards will make $14.15 an hour, and the supervising lifeguard at each pool will make $16 an hour.

"We're hoping these are 2 things that really lead to some good lifeguards applying to work with us for the summer," said Gardner.

There's one more incentive. If you want to lifeguard but aren't certified, the city will pay for your certification if you lifeguard through Labor Day. The pools open on June 25.

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