Faced with staffing shortages preventing the pool from opening, she decided to step up and help her community.
A grandma of three, also a mom of two, has decided that her age isn't going to come in the way while helping her community. Ohio native, Gail Rodgers, has become a lifeguard at her local pool amid staffing shortages. The 66-year-old saw that her local pool couldn't open due to a lifeguard shortage and stepped up to help. The longtime resident and board president of the Montgomery Towne Condominiums of Sycamore Township told Good Morning America, "I thought, 'Well, I did this lifeguard thing back in the late '60s' so I thought maybe I can do this again.'"
Over 50 years ago, the retired IT consultant had trained to be a lifeguard. She didn't work as one, so she needed to brush up on her skills. "It's hugely different. The lifeguard back then would sit in the chair and might blow the whistle occasionally to tell you to stop running or so," Rodgers said. "They had no props, no flotation device, all they had was a whistle. So they were really more police than anything else. I went and got the precertification just to make sure that I could pass the physical test first, which I found out I could, so I was happy about that, and then I went through the full training," the determined grandma continued, as reported by ABC News.
Rodgers, trained in the 1960s, said she had to learn new skills, such as CPR and the usage of an AED. Jeff Blume, president of Cincinnati Pool Management and Rodgers' boss, also admitted that the physical examination isn't easy. "[Lifeguard candidates] have to swim a 300-yard length and that is 12 laps at a traditional swimming pool. They have to tread water for the allotted amount of time and then they have to swim a length and then submerge and grab a 10-pound brick off the bottom of the pool," Blume explained.
Lifeguard shortage forcing some N.J. swimming spots to close, reduce hours https://t.co/Vylq3aTw7J— njdotcom (@njdotcom) June 24, 2023
Through sheer grit and perseverance, Rodgers became a part-time lifeguard on May 27. "It's been fun watching the kids playing with their parents and people enjoying the nice weather in the pool. It's been a lot better and more pleasant than I expected it to be," Rodgers said. Her boss said it has also been "a joy" to have her on their team. "These individuals don't walk in your door that often, so you cherish when they do walk in the door and what they bring to the table," he said, adding, "It's not a job to her, it's an experience, and that's critical."
For the third year in a row, a lifeguard shortage could cause thousands of pools to close or change hours this summer. https://t.co/oL2i8c38dF— ABC News (@ABC) June 26, 2023
Blume noted that fear can hold a lot of people back and he's glad Rodgers is such an inspiration for being courageous. "I think there's maybe a stigma or a fear of 'I can't do this' or 'That's not for me. That's for the young kids,' or something like that. So, there's a lot to overcome, [but] if people wanted to do it, we could help them with the skills and give them a little bit more of a boost before they actually take the class, kind of like a pre-course. If people realize that that was an option, I think that they might not look at the skills test as such a steep mountain to overcome." Both of them hope more people are inspired to take up lifeguarding as the country continues to face lifeguard shortages.