Lifeguard shortage affects Boothbay Region YMCA pool hours

Fri, 06/24/2022 - 9:30am

    From Chicago to Philadelphia and now Boothbay Harbor, a national shortage of lifeguards has meant closings for public swimming pools. Boothbay Region YMCA Executive Director Andy Hamblett said recently in an email to the Boothbay Register, “As you might be aware, there is a national lifeguard crisis and here in Boothbay we are experiencing it first-hand.  It has (affected) our hours of operations with regards to the pools, (and) our ability to provide swim lessons and offer water safety classes.”

    Hamblett provided more detail in a recent phone interview. “Usually, we have a number of staff that teach lifeguarding,” he said.

    This winter, the Y lost lifeguards who moved out of the area, he said. He and a few others on the staff took lifeguarding classes to help out, but the loss of staff for two full-time jobs reduced the Y’s ability to have the full pool schedule. “We are piecing it together with two (and) three-hour shifts, but everyone has other jobs and can’t lifeguard full time.” 

    Erin Gray, senior program director for aquatics, explained the staffing issue in more detail. When the pools were running at full schedule, the Y had four full-time guards and five support staff, either part time or per diem, who helped out when full-time staff members were not available, she said. Currently, the Y has two full-time staff and is down to only two part-time employees who also work full-time jobs in the community, she continued.

    A notice on the YMCA’s website has advised members the Y will be unable to open both pools weekday afternoons (alternating which one is open from 3 to 5 p.m.), as well as weekends.

    ”We saw the true full impact of the national crisis,” Hamblett said.

    Gray said the current pool schedule is: 
    Emery Pool: 
    Monday-Friday, 5:30 a.m.-11 a.m. (break from 11-1), certain days have openings from 1-3 or from 1-5 depending on how many guards are scheduled. 
    Therapy Pool: 
    Monday-Friday, 7-11 a.m. (break from 11-1), certain days we schedule family swim based on how many guards are scheduled. Most of the time open 1-3 p.m. for therapy time. 
    “Saturdays both pools are closed and will be until our new staff have acclimated to the role,” Gray said. “When we do open back up on Saturdays, it will be from 7 to 11 a.m. for the Emery Pool only.” 

    Hamblett explained that there are state guidelines and not everyone can serve as a lifeguard. ”The pandemic created a shortage of lifeguarding classes which in turn created a void of instructors,” he explained.

    Hamblett said David Washburn was expected to join the staff as aquatics director this week.

    Asked what other staff is needed, Gray answered, “We have ... two more full-time positions open, and are always open to as many part-time/per diem staff as we can get.”

    “We offer training as frequently as we can, but summer months are nearly impossible ... We would be willing to send potential staff to another facility for training if it was for this summer,” she continued.

    Applications for a lifeguard job are at the Y’s front desk and at

    Hamblett expects Saturday use of the pools to resume after July 4 on an abbreviated schedule. He looks forward to offering more lifeguarding classes in the future. “If we get more people certified and aware, it will make us a safer community.”