While looking to increase its daytime
lifeguard staff levels and increase programming options, the
Aquatic Unit for the city of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, achieved
both in one bold, creative stroke.
Recognizing that many of its employees attended school and were unavailable
during the day, the city sought a way to bolster its lifeguard crew
so it could increase daytime programming.
The result was a program solely for adults, with the only prerequisite being
the ability to swim 250 meters. From that starting point,
supervisors guided the students through seven courses, all the way
through certifying them as lifeguards.
The course was offered at no charge for adults, who agreed to work a full year
at the facility. Students who didn’t want to commit to those
terms had the option of paying $1,000 for the cost of training and
“The program came from our needs,” says Denise Beard, Burlington
aquatics supervisor. “We all had these ideas of increasing
programming, but the key to doing that was increasing the
Through a series of advertising campaigns, job fairs and media coverage, the
city attracted people who were available to train and work during
the day. “We targeted stay-at-home moms and people who were
free during the day,” Beard says.
To make training more comfortable for the adults, a pregnant mother was
given the task of molding the group of mostly 30-somethings into
In the first year, 15 adults completed the course and became certified, allowing
the city to offer more swim lessons and longer recreational swim
times at the city’s four pools. The program was so successful
that the city now has a waiting list of people who want to
One of our judges found the concept so appealing, he thinks the National
Recreation and Park Association’s Aquatic Branch, as well as
other national aquatics organizations, should consider promoting