Free swim lessons return to Meck. Co. after pandemic and lifeguard shortage issues

Two Mecklenburg County pools are offering the lessons.
Published: May. 4, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - For the first summer in two years, Mecklenburg County’s aquatics department is able to offer free swim lessons.

The free lessons will take place at the Double Oaks and Cordelia public pools.

The pandemic and lifeguard shortages kept the county from being able to do this last year. It also kept YMCA swim instructors from being able to go into community apartment complexes to teach lessons.

If your child fell behind on swim skills because of this, or needs to learn for the first time, now is the time to sign up.

“It’s something we feel passionately about,” Mecklenburg County Recreation Superintendent Jeff Carwile said. “We feel that swimming and learning to swim is a life skill and we want to make sure everyone has that opportunity to learn that skill.”

In 2021, some pools operated under limited hours due to COVID-19 cleaning protocols and a lifeguard shortage, but he says this year the county is in better shape. Unlike in previous years during the pandemic, this year they were able to go into local schools to recruit lifeguards at job fairs.

Mecklenburg County raised the salary for lifeguards from $11 an hour to $15 an hour last summer.

“We’re still recruiting lifeguards,” he said. “We plan to operate this summer. The hours may vary depending on staff levels but there will be an option for people to swim every day at the outdoor pools.”

Lifeguards have to be 16 years or older and complete training through the county.

The YMCA is also recruiting for positions across 28 pools in Mecklenburg County. Right now they have 200 openings for lifeguards and another 100 for swim instructors.

The YMCA will cover all training costs and provide flexible hours for the positions.

“80 percent of all our branches, if your child is a camper here, your child will get swim lessons while at camp,” Ame Guy, the Director of Acquatics for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte, said.

Guy says in addition to campers, anyone from 6 months old to adults can take lessons.

“The pandemic caused families to miss out on swim lessons,” she said. “We’re seeing children not swim at their swim level. They may have missed out on going on their third year of swim lessons.”

She says now is the time to change that.

“A first barrier of drowning prevention is to teach your child to swim,” she said.

Most outdoor pools open Memorial Day weekend.

County pools will be noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend.

To sign up for FREE lessons through the county, go to the Cordelia or Double Oaks pool at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 11 to sign up for weekday morning classes for the following week. Registration will continue at 9:30 a.m. each Saturday after that.

To sign up for lessons through the YMCA, click here.

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