Long gone are the glory days of “Baywatch” and teens clamoring for a chance to don the iconic red suit and keep watch over the shore or the community pool. Now, high-schoolers and college students fill their summers with career-boosting internships and extracurricular activities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer teens are seeking jobs — only 35 percent of 16- to 19-year-olds are currently working.
What’s more, recruiters for pool management companies on the East Coast say stricter immigration policies have made it harder for them to hire the international students they once relied upon to fill their ranks for the summer.
Retirees who are working as lifeguards say they are up for the new challenge and welcome the opportunity to earn extra cash. As long as they can pass the certification test, age isn’t a factor — though some pools are lowering the physical requirements and upping wages to attract more workers.
However, some of these senior lifeguards are already plenty fit for the job. One retired math teacher, who is in his 60s, told The Post that he was worried about his training course with young lifeguards, but he turned out to be the fastest swimmer in the cohort.
It seems like a win-win for everyone. For the people managing the staff at pools and beaches, senior citizens are desirable workers: They’re reliable, and unlike some of the teens working as lifeguards, they can drive themselves to and from work. And, they have more open availability, thanks to their retirement status.
The new job opportunities are also providing motivation to get in better physical shape. One man, who paid for his college education by working as a lifeguard, decided to return to his former college gig 30 years later. Gregg Jugla, 50, is a pharmacist but works for New Jersey’s Wildwood Beach Patrol on his days off. “I love it,” he told The Washington Post. “It brings me back to my youth.”
Come on in, the water is fine.