Lake Metroparks Facing Lifeguard Shortage

A life preserver that reads "Guard"
[Brian P McGinnis / Shutterstock]
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Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park has fewer lifeguards on duty this summer. Visitors to the popular Lake County beach will have to swim at their own risk on Tuesdays and Wednesdays due to a lack of staff, Lake Metroparks said.

Many lifeguard certification classes across Northeast Ohio were canceled or limited due to the pandemic last year, said Chief of Outdoor Education Seth Begeman. Lake Metroparks started offering its own classes this year to help fill the need, he said.

“We tried to set up certification class and promote them through social media, our own website,” Begeman said. “We didn’t get anything.”

It’s been difficult to find people willing to go through the lifeguard certification process, he said.

“Getting certified is not just a day certification or an hour,” Begeman said. “It’s sometimes a week or a couple weeks, and it can be pretty extensive.”

Lake Metroparks also struggled to find staff for concessions and other jobs this year, Begeman said. Last year, the parks were able to bring on staff from the previous summer to help meet staffing needs, he said. But many of those people were college or high school students and aren’t consistently available every year. This year, he said, many of them have jobs or other obligations.

“The job posting’s still up. We’re always looking for them,” Begeman said. “If we get more lifeguards, we’d definitely love to adjust it back.”

The problem isn’t limited to Lake County, either. Begeman had heard from other properties in the region about difficulty finding staff for pools and lakefront areas.

“With pools not opening, adjusting hours if they are opening, trimming them down,” Begeman said. “And I’ve even seen other ones that are adjusting midseason like we are.”

Visitors can still swim on the days without lifeguards on duty, Begeman said, but they should take care to stay safe. Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park is open daily, with concessions and rentals available 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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