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Nassau County offers free lifeguard training, lowers age requirement amid nationwide shortage

Nassau County hopes to address lifeguard shortage as summer approaches
Nassau County hopes to address lifeguard shortage as summer approaches 01:33

LONG BEACH, N.Y. -- A nationwide lifeguard shortage could mean trouble as you head to the pool or beach this summer.

As CBS2's Dave Carlin reports, the shortage is forcing local governments to come up with creative ways to increase staffing.

The sand and sea were swelling with crowds at Long Beach on Saturday. 

"There's nothing better than Long Beach," one woman said.

"We love the beach ... We love the boardwalk, it's the best thing," one man said.

It's happening as lifeguard shortages continue to be a problem here and across the nation.

"I know that got shortages all over pretty much," one beachgoer said.

"There's a nationwide shortage of lifeguards," Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said.

Blakeman says ocean lifeguards and the swimming pool ones are working overtime during a scramble to get more applicants. The need is especially critical for the county's four pools, opening on Monday.

In a move the county expects will pay off swimmingly, lifeguard training is now offered for free, and that's not all.

The county figured out a way to boost the number of lifeguards by sliding back the age requirement for full certification for pool lifeguards.

"Our lifeguards now can be 15 years of age, so we're opening up a whole job opportunity for 15-year-olds," Blakeman said.

The trouble started when the pandemic prompted some lifeguards to find jobs they preferred with year-round work instead of seasonal.

In North Woodmere, Serhiy Skral and his 4-year-old son, Maxim, were finding other ways to keep busy while waiting for their local pool to come back.

"He likes to swim, and he likes tennis," Skral said.

The most important thing is when he serves and when he swims, he's kept safe.

According to nationwide statistics complied by the American Lifeguard Association, staffing shortages are impacting at least one-third of all U.S. swimming pools.

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