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Grandmother becomes lifeguard again to help keep YMCA Cape Cod pool open

Barnstable grandmother becomes lifeguard to help keep YMCA Cape Cod pool open
Barnstable grandmother becomes lifeguard to help keep YMCA Cape Cod pool open 02:03

BARNSTABLE -- After hearing about a lifeguard shortage at the YMCA Cape Cod, a 70-year-old woman jumped in to help. 

"We need staff in order to keep our facility open, we need help," said Mark Thurman, Director of Operations at YMCA Cape Cod. A text alert sent out in June pleaded for the community's help.

At the time, YMCA Cape Cod was forced to close its small pool due to a staffing shortage. 

Barnstable grandmother Maggie Sullivan was one of the first people to respond. "I'm retired so I have time," said Sullivan. Her only hesitation - her lifeguard certification expired 50 years ago.

"She heard the call, and she decided to help out, and we got her certified," said Thurman. 

"Things have changed but it's pretty easy to study up and get back on board with it," said Sullivan. 

The former teacher is now working at the Y as a lifeguard and swim instructor. 

"She recognizes the ability of each kid and she adjusts what she's doing to them," said Donna Benkis of Dennis, whose grandchild was in Ms. Maggie's class Tuesday morning.

Sullivan first gained lifeguarding experience at Kalmus Beach in Barnstable, where she started out as a junior lifeguard at the age of 15 and worked her way up to head lifeguard in the 60s and 70s.

"It was a great job. I did it until I graduated from college in 1973 so lots of fun at Kalmus, lots of friendships," said Sullivan. 

Her co-workers at the Y are mostly in their twenties, an age difference that's proven to have its benefits.

"I've hit the like, 'let's go to dinner, it's 5 o'clock' so I'm fresh, I'm rested. But the young people offer things to me as well. Their energy, their alertness," said Sullivan. 

"As we get older, sometimes you know we lose our way. And we have to understand that we have talent. And it's great to share that talent. And I am so glad that Maggie decided to share her talent with us," said Thurman. 

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