As a consequence of the pandemic, the Beede Center pool staff found themselves without enough lifeguards to keep the facility open for swimming as often as it had been.
It was a nationwide problem, not just Concord, according to Cathi Ellis, general manager of the town-owned pool and fitness facility.
“After two years of COVID, we had a shortage of those interested in lifeguard training,” Ellis said. “The pipeline stopped. It was happening world-wide.”
So last month Ellis and Anna McKeown, swim manager, decided to offer lifeguard classes free.
“We did some creative recruiting,” Ellis said. “It used to be high school and college-age people. We offered free classes to the community.”
She said lifeguard classes can run $200-$300. “We decided to make it free. It helps the whole community.”
Starting in October, 30 training classes were “completely booked,” Ellis said. Each training session is 25 hours.
McKeown said trainees range in age from 16 to over 64 — the eldest is 72.
“It’s a good option for retirees,” said Ellis.
The American Red Cross runs classes for the instructors.
McKeown said Town Manager Kerry LaFleur partnered with the Recreation Department to offer a competitive wage scale. And lifeguards are offered a free membership at the Beede Center.