GLEN COVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There is a critical shortage of certified lifeguards at local swimming pools, beach clubs and camps.

Some won’t be able to open. Others say hours of operation will be cut.

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As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the outdoor pool is empty at the YMCA in Glen Cove. President and CEO Anne Brigis says without lifeguards, opening day is going down to the wire.

“The shortage is like nothing I’ve ever seen. We need 30 more lifeguards,” Brigis said.

The pay is better than minimum wage. Desperate employers are raising the stakes, offering certified high school and college students $17-25 an hour, or more.

“There’s a place in the Hamptons offering $30 an hour plus they’ll give you an apartment for the summer,” said Motti Eliyahu, owner of Lifeguard Training NY.

Beach clubs, pools and summer camps are reaching out to him for help – he trains lifeguards.

“For a month and a half, we were the only ones in New York state running lifeguarding classes,” he said.

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His 20-hour class costs $395 at Swim Stars of Rockville Centre. Would-be employers say they will even pick up the tab.

“My goal right here, now, is to finish the test, pass the test, and become a lifeguard,” said Devin Brown of Mastic Beach.

“The money is really good right now, and I’m actually really glad I have this opportunity,” said Jason Tarry of Manorville.

The critical lifeguard shortage is nationwide, and pandemic-related. Some parents don’t want their kids to work during the pandemic. Some teens say after sitting home for a year, they are out of shape and fear they won’t pass the lifeguard physical.

The Town of Hempstead reports due to early planning, its beach lifeguards are in place, but still needs 50 swimming pool lifeguards.

“This is a great opportunity. You are outdoors. You’re by the water, let it be the ocean or at the pools. You really have to desire to really be there and help people because you are protecting lives,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Donald Clavin.

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Lifeguards are fulfilled, he says, with friendship and service.

Jennifer McLogan