SEAPARC is in need of lifeguards and instructors. Staff shortages have led to a reduction in the number of swimming classes offered at the facility. (photo contributed)

Sooke needs lifeguards and swim instructors

Staff shortages mean fewer swim classes

SEAPARC has been forced to cut back on the number of learn-to-swim classes offered this fall due to a shortage of staff.

It’s a problem SEAPARC’s aquatic programmer has a little bit of trouble understanding.

Elizabeth Olsen said the aquatic schedule at the facility has had to be “streamlined” because SEAPARC does not have enough qualified staff available to offer all the lessons it would like to provide.

“We could use up to eight new staff members, although it could be a higher number than that depending upon how many hours a week each new staff member can work. Some staff are only available for a few hours a week and that means that we need more people to fill out all the hours of work available,” Olsen said.

“I really can’t understand it (the lack of staff). This is a great job with a great rate of pay that young people could take on and continue to do well into the future.”

The Capital Regional District has advertised for lifeguards and swim instructors on its website but, there’s been no flood of applicants for the positions.

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One of the problems, said Olsen, is that applicants need to be qualified with a current National Lifeguard Service Award or a current Water Safety Instructor Award.

These awards require physical fitness (there is a tested swimming component) and call for applicants to have completed a comprehensive training course with either the Red Cross or the National Lifeguard Service.

These courses can be pricey.

Steve Knoke, SEAPARC manager, estimates that cost to achieve lifeguard certification at about $766 and the cost for instructor certification at $635.

Still, with an hourly salary of $20.74, the job provides the opportunity to quickly recover the training costs and can provide the basis for a long-term position in the recreational aquatic field.

“It is the kind of job that people can do on a part-time basis, and it’s ideal for a student who wants to make some money. A student could take this job and keep it as part-time employment all through university and beyond,” said Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director for the CRD.

“I know that the staff at SEAPARC have been aware of the recruitment problem for a while and are actively trying to address the staffing situation there. I have full confidence that they are doing all they can.”

Beyond advertising for staff, Olsen said that there are scholarships available for the necessary training, and students who are considering taking the training should be aware that it will also earn them high school credits.

Anyone with an interest in working as a lifeguard or swim instructor should contact the staff at SEAPARC for further information.

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