Program Aims To Train More PBC Lifeguards

Pools nationwide have suffered from a shortage of lifeguards and swim instructors, and Palm Beach County is no exception. That’s why the Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation Department and the Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County are launching a pilot program that will allow lifeguards and water safety instructors to become certified for free.

Certification costs to become lifeguards and water safety instructors often can act as barriers for teens and others who might be interested in applying. The cost can range from $175 to $400. With an agreement approved by the Palm Beach County Board of County Commissioners, the Parks & Recreation Department will provide the pool space and staff for trainings at county-run pools, while the Children’s Services Council will cover the processing fees for certification. Hopeful lifeguards and swim instructors participating in the program will pay nothing to be certified.

“This is truly a win-win-win. A win for teens looking for summer jobs. A win for kids who need swim lessons or just want to enjoy a pool on a hot summer day. A win for the community because it helps protect our children around water,” said Dr. Lisa Williams-Taylor, CEO of the Children’s Services Council.

The initial phase of the program calls for one lifeguard class and one water safety instructor class to be taught per month. The classes typically are three days, and participants must take a pretest to make sure they are physically able to carry out the job duties. The free certification classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’re really excited to partner with the CSC to offer free lifeguard and water safety certifications to our community,” said Jimmy Davis, director of aquatics for Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation. “Our goals are to remove financial barriers that exist with becoming certified, eliminate lifeguard shortages in our area and ultimately reduce the number of drownings.”

The first certification classes offered through this pilot program will be in April. The dates are being finalized and will be announced soon. County pools are the Aqua Crest Pool in Delray Beach, the Lake Lytal Family Aquatic Center in West Palm Beach, the North County Aquatic Complex in Jupiter, the Pioneer Park Aquatic Center in Belle Glade and the Santaluces Aquatic Complex in Lantana.