Lifeguard Erika Burroughs with 75-year-old senior swimmer Brian Noble, a regular at Grand Forks Aquatic Centre.

Lifeguard Erika Burroughs with 75-year-old senior swimmer Brian Noble, a regular at Grand Forks Aquatic Centre.

‘Greywatch’: Come out of retirement and step up to the lifeguard chair

The Grand Forks Aquatic Centre is urging local seniors to answer its call for new lifeguards to keep the community safe and ensure its pool is adequately staffed all year round in a stroke that aims to counter the national lifeguard shortage.

Managers at Grand Forks & District Recreation are thinking outside the box to fill the shortfall and buck the trend. It’s literally all hands on deck, as older adults are being asked to dive in to help and make up for a lack of younger applicants. They’re appealing to those who want to stay active and supplement their income to return to lifeguarding or to give it a try. Especially anyone who used to be a lifeguard back in the day, had time off to raise a family, want to recertify or go through the certification process for the first time.

“When we saw what The Canada Games Aquatic Centre in St John’s was doing, actively recruiting and certifying an older demographic as lifeguards and swim instructors, we knew the ‘Greywatch’ idea was a keeper,” says Paul Keys, manager of facilities and recreation at RDKB’s Grand Forks & District Recreation Department. “It would be great to see a range of ages and life experiences, poolside, that are as diverse as those of our patrons,” he adds.

“We’re surrounded by strong swimmers and water enthusiasts who have time on their hands, want to keep active and to give something back to their community too, all while getting paid and boosting their social lives,” says Melina Van Hoogevest, recreation supervisor at RDKB’s Grand Forks & District Recreation Department. “Age is just a number, so if you’re more Greywatch than Baywatch, don’t be put off. Together, we can future-proof our pool and keep our community safe,” she adds.

“Lifeguarding is really rewarding, regardless of age, and we provide a robust training program for new recruits. We’re hoping to inspire students and to also plant the seed among those who haven’t considered lifeguarding, to jump right in and join our lifesaving team,” says aquatic coordinator Megan Tiller.

Anyone who wants to find out more about lifeguarding positions and lifeguarding certification at Grand Forks Aquatic Centre, should contact Megan Tiller at Grand Forks & District Recreation: mtiller@rdkb.com.