ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Pools and beaches in Maryland and in other parts of the country are facing lifeguard shortages.

“I had a outdoor pool reach out to me in Anne Arundel County that said that they don’t have any and don’t know they can open their pool,” said Jill Black, the senior director of swim and family programs for the Y of Central Maryland.

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Black said that the locations she manages now employs about 300 lifeguards in total, down from roughly 400 before the pandemic.

“It was hard coming back from the pandemic, getting people to come back to work, so we had a lot of our managers in the ratio, in the pool. We had to shorten our hours,” she said.

But Black said that their pools were facing lifeguard shortages before the pandemic began. So they started to address the problem when COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and began offering training and certification on-site.

“We’re running the lifeguard classes here – we offered to train the lifeguards. So if you said, ‘Oh I’d like to be lifeguard but I don’t have a certification, we’ll train you, we’ll get you to the point where you can pass the class,” said Black.

She also said they now have fewer swimmers at their locations than before the pandemic, and are now only 10 lifeguards short.

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Baltimore City Recreation and Parks said in a statement to WJZ that it is also impacted by the lifeguard shortage problem and has had to adjust their swimmer to lifeguard ratio because of the issue.

The department is trying to hire more lifeguards by increasing the hourly wage they offer for the position by $3, to $16 per hour for entry-level lifeguard and $17 per hour for more experienced lifeguards.

It is also offering free training and a $250 incentive for applicants 15 and up.

But a spokesperson for the department said that even though they have not enough lifeguards, their pools are still safe.

“Like many municipalities around the country, Baltimore City Recreation and Parks is also impacted by the national lifeguard shortage. Despite, that fact, we are confident that city pools are operating in a safe and fluid manner this swim season,” said Whitney Clemmons Brown, the public relations officer for the department.

Visit the Y’s website to learn more about lifeguarding opportunities at the Y of Central Maryland.

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Learn more about Baltimore City pools by visiting the parks and recreation department’s page.

Stetson Miller