Faced with a shortage of lifeguards, free training is on the rise

There is a shortage of 5,000 lifeguards and lifeguards in France, according to the French Swimming Federation, which is already forcing some swimming pools to close.

They might be the ones eyeing beaches and pools this summer. Eight candidates are doing lengths in the 25m pool of this somewhat dated swimming pool in Saint-Denis, near Paris. Seven swimmers and one swimmer have been training twice a week for eight months: the training will allow them to become lifeguards. There are 5,000 missing in France.

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“I got wind of this manpower shortage in the pools and also in the sea”, says Naël, who joined the program during the trip. He was looking for a student job, after interrupting an economics and management degree that he didn’t like. “I thought it was an opportunity for me to definitely find a job. Especially since it’s a field that interests me. It kills two birds with one stone.”

Completely free training

All with no professional activity, participants prepare for the Aquatic Lifeguard Certificate, the first step towards the Lifeguard Diploma, which enables them to self-supervise swimming and to teach swimming.

If training normally costs an average of 700 euros, here it is completely free. This is the first year that the Montmartre swimming rescue association has offered this programme, supervised by Hugo Schiano Di Cola. This summer we are surveillance on the beaches. And they are the lifeguards we have trained who will be directly on our beaches. Faced with the problem, we find the solution”, he sums up. On the programme: training in the medley, but above all in the crawl. “It is the fastest swim, the one in which you get less tired, explains the trainer. So they swim a lot, crawl a lot. We have dummies that they drop and tow. But they have to be good enough at swimming to go and retrieve a mannequin that weighs a lot, about 80 kilos in the water.”

“I didn’t want an office job”

For these “city ​​beaches“Based in the summer in Paris, Pantin or La Courneuve in the Paris region, the association has therefore found supervisors. But for the rest of the year, the situation remains very complicated, because work is no longer a dream.”Basically, a lifeguard diploma is used to teach swimming, but there are fewer and fewer of them. Today we’re on surveillance all day long, only after a while, surveillance for seven hours, for a whole day, starts to get very, very long. We get bored on surveillance because we have nothing to do. This is the problem of scarcity“, analyzes Hugo Schiano Di Cola.

Working conditions which, however, do not discourage all candidates. The workout is for everyone, including people who weren’t expert swimmers. This is the case of Nadine, 48 years old. In lane number 5 she finished her 100m series slightly behind. This housewife who had never swum in a club before decided to convert: “I didn’t want an office job where I wouldn’t see the light of day. And there, I know we’re always outdoors or in contact with people of different ages… I like it that way too”, she smiles. The association already has plans to revamp the system next year.

Marie-Astrid Guégan’s report


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