Lifeguarding is a glamorous summer job but qualified candidates are in short supply here in Connecticut.
Sarah Battistini, the water safety coordinator for State Parks Lifeguards, says she spent much of the winter recruiting.
“We reached out to the high schools and colleges trying to let them know if anyone is looking for a summer job we have positions open,” said Battistini.
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Although state beaches are expecting to be full-staffed by July 1, there is an immediate need for lifeguards. So far they’ve hired 70 lifeguards for the season and are hoping for about 30 more.
Beaches like Rocky Neck are anticipating a busy summer and will need broad lifeguard coverage. Caroline Spada, the senior lifeguard at Rocky Neck State Park says they need nine lifeguards during the week and 18 on the weekend.
“It’s honesty one of the best jobs in my age group,” said Spada, “even if you’re older too.”
Because the need is so great, retirees are also being asked to apply. Staff explains that a retirees experience and maturity add to team chemistry.
Regardless of age, all qualified candidates must pass rigorous physical tests.
“We need to see that you can swim underwater for 25 yards, that you can tread water for two minutes without using your hands and that you can do a timed brick retrieval from about 7 to 10 feet,” explained Battistini.
Lifeguards must also be able to swim 550 yards continuously and run a quarter mile in 90 seconds. The physical requirements are justified by the job’s ultimate responsibility.
“This is a job that involves guarding people’s lives,” said Battistini. “That is our base goal every day is to make sure every beach goer that comes in and goes swimming leaves at the end of the day.”
As for this weekend six of the eight Connecticut state beaches will have coverage. However, Burrpond in Torrington and Indian Well in Shelton will have no staff.