Emily Cummings of Oxford Hills swims at the YWCA in Lewiston. The sophomore and lone swimmer on the Vikings swim team usually lifeguards in the summer. Mitch Morrison photo

Lifeguarding is a popular summer job for high school and college kids, and positions in and around the Lewiston-Auburn area are usually filled by swimmers who competed at the varsity level in high school.

With the current coronavirus pandemic, area pools like the pool at Kennedy Park, Bates College and the YWCA all have shut down for the summer or can’t open until Phase III of Governor Mills’ reopening plan. That has those swimmers disappointed that they won’t do a job they enjoy.

Emily Cumming, a sophomore at Oxford Hills and the lone Vikings swimmer this season, was entering her third year working at a pool, first as a teacher’s aide at Pennesseewassee Lake before becoming a lifeguard at the lake and at the YWCA in Lewiston in 2019.

“I really liked the people who I worked with at the Y, so that was a plus,” Cummings said. “I liked I got to help out with the swim lessons also, along with lifeguarding.”

Cummings hasn’t heard if Pennesseewassee Lake will have swim lessons this summer or not.

Patrick Manson, a St. Dom’s swimmer, was looking to become a lifeguard this summer. Mitch Morrison photo

Melina Masselli, who will be graduating from Lewiston as valedictorian, spent her summers working at the pool at Bates College. The campus isn’t scheduled to open back up until September.

“It’s a really great job because not only are you being able to protect others, you build those relationships with the patrons as well, that’s my favorite part,” Masselli said.

St. Dominic Academy sophomore Patrick Manson was going to lifeguard for the first time, as he got a job at the YWCA prior to everything getting shut down.

“That was kind of my goal (to become a lifeguard) because I swim and I swim every day almost during my swim season,” Manson said. “To me, it just kind of made sense, you know, if I’m already going to be there, I might as well get the job that allows me to help people.”

GETTING CERTIFIED

Emily Cummings of Oxford Hills has worked at the YWCA in Lewiston as a lifeguard and as a teacher’s aide for swim lessons at Pennesseewassee Lake in Norway. Mitch Morrison photo

Being a lifeguard is more than just sitting in a chair atop the pool. There’s a cost factor to get certified as a lifeguard.

There’s classroom training along with work in the pool, which includes completion of a 300-yard swim, treading water, and timed deep-water object removal.

“There’s the money aspect, but it’s a lot of effort,” Manson said. “You have to do a 300-yard swim which isn’t crazy, but someone who isn’t a (competitive) swimmer, I can imagine the first time it can be pretty challenging and it’s also taxing on your body.”

In Lewiston/Auburn, the American Red Cross runs the lifeguarding and training class at the YWCA, which can cost from the $200-250 range to get certified or recertified as certification lasts for two years.

The frustration for the kids is the money that they or their families have put in and they won’t be able to use the certification this summer.

“It was stressful at first, putting in that money and I probably won’t be able to get that back this summer,” Masselli said. “At least I will have (the certification) for next summer.”

Masselli said she got recertified this winter prior to the pandemic.

While Cummings got certified in 2019 and won’t have to get recertified again until 2021, she was looking forward to getting her Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification, but now won’t be able to.

“As a lifeguard, I can’t be the lead teacher for swim lessons without a WSI,” Cummings said.

FINDING OTHER SUMMER WORK

For Manson, Masselli and Cummings, they have pushed forward to find other summer jobs.

At first there was some trepidation of the current job market, but for Masselli and Cummings they have been able to find other work.

“There was a lot of anxiety when I found out when Bates was closed for the summer and that lifeguarding position wouldn’t be available,” Masselli said. “My first thought was an ice cream place, if I couldn’t lifeguard, that’s what I always wanted to do. I was really excited Fielder’s Choice was hiring and I got that (position).”

Cummings will be working at the Well Point Veterinary Service in Norway.

Patrick Manson, a sophomore at St. Dom’s, is one of three boys on the school’s swim team. He became a certified lifeguard this winter prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Mitch Morrison photo

Manson hasn’t found anything yet, but understands it might take longer because of what’s going on in the world.

“It’s tough, it really is, it’s a bad situation, it’s no fun for anybody,” Manson said of the coronavirus pandemic. “Nobody is benefiting from it but I think at this time, right now, we all have to stick together, things will get better eventually. Hopefully we will be able to open up some of the jobs and people will be able to get jobs. Until then, there are things you can do. You can go around and mow lawns. You can pull weeds for people, there are ways to make money.”


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