Volusia County in need of more lifeguards

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Officials with Volusia County Beach Patrol held lifeguard tryouts on Saturday in hopes of filling more than 100 open positions for new lifeguards.

Thousands of people will soon be flocking to Volusia County beaches as the weather warms up. But Beach Patrol officials say they will need a lot more lifeguards to keep an eye on the beachgoers.

Lifeguard tryouts were held on Saturday at the YMCA in Ormond Beach in hopes of finding more lifeguards.

Officials said they didn't see as big of a turnout at the tryouts as they expected, but they think cold weather is partly to blame. If the county doesn't recruit more lifeguards, the current staff will have to work long hours through the summer season.

Chase Alexander tried out and qualified to move on in the process to become a new lifeguard. His father told WFTV he is proud of his son.

"It's not like a normal job, it's something that's going to help your community," said Lewis Alexander.

Volusia County Beach Patrol said they are in dire need of lifeguards. There are more than 100 lifeguard positions that need to be filled, officials said. During peak times, the county needs 90 lifeguards at once to cover the beaches.

"Every year it seems more and more people are going to the beach. It's very important to get guards in the seats," said Capt. Mike Berard with Beach Patrol.

Officials said the list of applicants has been especially short this year. In addition to fewer applicants, about half of those who tryout don't meet the physical requirements.

"It makes it harder on us if we don't have the number of people come out and try out," Berard said.

Beach Patrol wants more people like Laykin Trentham applying for the lifeguard positions. Trentham was one of the first women to try out and pass.

"I feel great. Great and cold and tired," Trentham said.

Officials said they will make sure the lifeguard towers are covered regardless of the turnout at tryouts.

There are two more tryouts for anyone who is 17 or older and is interested in becoming a Volusia County lifeguard. There will be tryouts on March 23 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Port Orange YMCA, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the DeLand YMCA.