Lifeguards provide safety and are role models.

With the opening of Spivey Splash Water Park, as well as the summer swim season, Clayton County Parks and Recreation Director Troy Hodges says the county is “in desperate need” of lifeguards for the summer.

According to USA Swimming, 70% of Black Americans don’t know how to swim. However, taking swimming lessons can cut drowning risk by 88%. Many lifeguards go on to become Water Safety Instructors, meaning they are certified to teach swimming. That means Clayton County lifeguards are true heroes who provide a much-needed service in water safety and rescue. Even if they never actually rescue someone from drowning, lifeguards do much to prevent drownings from happening in the first place. They also serve as role models for younger kids.

To be eligible to apply for Clayton County’s aquatics program, you must meet these prerequisites:

  • Age 16 or older
  • If you’re 16, or 17, you need a valid work permit
  • Must be able to work weekend and holidays
  • Must have a valid driver’s license or picture ID AND an original Social Security card at time of interview
  • May need to work up to 25 hours per week
  • American Red Cross certification preferred
  • Must pass American Red Cross swim test

Some jobs are available for 15-year-olds, Hodges said.

If you are 15 or older on or before the last class day, the county will pay for your American Red Cross lifeguard certification course, a $150 value that’s good for two years. The course is a blended model, part online and part in-person (with COVID-19 distancing requirements in effect).

Lifeguards with current certifications do not need to take the course.

Prerequisites for the course include:

  • a 300-meter swim (no stopping, crawl and/or breaststroke only, goggles OK)
  • 2 minutes treading water using legs only (keep hands under armpits)
  • Swim 20 yards (no goggles), surface dive (head- or feet-first) 7-10 feet and retrieve a 10-pound brick, surface and swim 2o yards on back while holding the brick with both hands, then get out without using ladder or steps (all within 1 minute, 40 seconds)

You will learn how to recognize, prevent, and respond to aquatic emergencies, as well as how to provide professional-level care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries, and sudden illnesses until EMS takes over. The program offers Lifeguarding, First Aid, CPR, and AED (automated external defibrillator, which is used to “jump start” a stopped heart).

To pass the course, you will need to:

  • Attend all sessions and participate actively (including victim and rescuer roles in scenarios)
  • Demonstrate competency in all required skills
  • Pass all final skills scenarios
  • Pass written exams with 80% or more (one retest allowed on the other version of the exam if you have passed the practical assessment)

The next two-day lifeguard certification courses will take place on these dates:

  • June 4-5
  • July 30-31
  • August 20-21
  • September 10-11
  • October 8-9
  • November 18-19

Clayton County has seleral aquatic amenities, including:

For more information about lifeguard training, call (770) 318-8213. The aquatics manager is Jeramie Reeves and the aquatics coordinator is Vincent McPherson.


Learn more about American Red Cross lifeguarding, first aid, CPR, and AED training

Learn how to swim with an American Red Cross near you

Download the Free Swim app (App Store or Google Play)—or text the word SWIM to 90999—so you and your family can learn how to be safe in and around the water.

Learn what USA Swimming is doing to promote inclusion in aquatics

Robin Kemp

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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