OCEANSIDE — The annual Parks and Recreation Lifeguard Academy will train future city pool lifeguards in lifesaving skills this month.
To bolster attendance, the city is offering five scholarships for the academy.
“This is the first year we’ve done scholarships,” Molly Alvarado, city aquatics technician, said. “Parks and Recreation lifeguards are getting harder to come by, and the entire county has seen a shortage in summer pool lifeguarding staff.”
The scholarships also help address a concerning national trend of more private pools leading to a lack of water safety, untrained swimmers and increases in drowning.
“This scholarship is a direct incentive to become part of a movement towards keeping the public safe, educated and passionate about aquatics again,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado said the six-week Lifeguard Academy focuses on safety practices.
“Water extraction skills, victim recognition, advanced first aid, professional CPR — everything needed for public safety,” Alvarado said of the curriculum.
The academy readies participants for a career as a basic lifeguard. From there, there are opportunities to become a water safety instructor, lifeguard trainer, pool operator, lifeguard manager, lifeguard supervisor, director of aquatics and director of Parks and Recreation.
Alvarado said the job holds many rewards. She has taught 1,000 children how to swim, more than 200 adults to perform CPR and trained more than 70 lifeguards.
“You get to teach children not only how to swim, but how to enjoy the water,” Alvarado said. “You get to show adults how to be safe and keep their children safe around the water. As your certifications collect, you get to teach people how to save lives.”
Parks and Recreation lifeguards also lead synchronized swimming classes, surf camps and kayak tours.
The qualities needed for the job are maturity and dependability.
“Lifeguards are part of a team whether at the beach or in the pool, we must be able to count on each other’s abilities to utilize life-saving skills.”
Full-time employment requires a high school education, part-time lifeguard manager experience and certification to teach and train lifeguards.
Part-time employment is more common. It can begin at age 16. Entry level lifeguard duties include overseeing pool recreational and lap swims and teaching swim lessons. Part-time positions can be year-round or seasonal.
Alvarado said many part-time lifeguards work summers while completing high school and college classes the rest of the year.
“Pool lifeguards still in high school get the opportunity to have a steady summer job that is flexible enough to allow them to get a few hours a week in the off-season, or to take the off-season to focus on school,” Alvarado said.
The city collected applications for Lifeguard Academy scholarships through Jan. 7 and selected scholarship recipients on Jan. 8.
The scholarship award requires recipients to work for Oceanside Parks and Recreation for one year after course completion. Alvarado said the city will continue to offer scholarships in the coming years.