Your Image of Lifeguards Probably Needs to Change

Older Americans are showing up in place of busy teens
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 4, 2018 9:03 AM CDT
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A lifeguard looks out from a watchtower on a beach in Sochi, Russia, on June 15, 2018.   (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, File)

(Newser) – The iconic teenage summer job is being nabbed by grandparents. Older adults and retirees are increasingly climbing up the lifeguard chair, with fewer high schoolers and college students seeking jobs, reports the Washington Post, telling the story of a 70-year-old Texas woman who went from making just over $10 an hour as a substitute high school teacher to $14 an hour at local pools. "I thought, 'What the heck, I love the water, so I'll give it a try,'" the woman says. She's not alone: With rising wages and less-onerous physical requirements, the American Lifeguard Association has recruited people as old as 86 to fill the nation's 150,000 lifeguarding jobs. Between extracurricular activities and internships, it seems teens no longer have the time, or inclination. Just 35% of teens 16 to 19 are working, compared to 52% in 1998.

The lack of teen workers combined with increased immigration vetting under the Trump administration, resulting in "unprecedented" visa issues for foreign workers, has made for a "double storm," an ALA rep tells the New York Post. "Back when Baywatch was on the air, we had so many applicants that we had to turn people away," he adds, per the Times. Now "we're starting to think outside the box: baby boomers, seniors, retired lawyers and accountants." Applicants are almost guaranteed a job for summer—pools across the country are struggling to fill positions, and some remain closed as a result—but they first need to complete lifeguard certification, which takes about 40 hours of training. According to the Post, it requires a person swim 500 meters in less than 10 minutes and run one mile on the beach in 7.5 minutes. (Like nudity? You'll like this lifeguard post.)

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