Greystone YMCA lifeguard classes begin Jan. 18

HOOVER – Lifeguard certification classes begin again at the Greystone YMCA on Jan. 18.

The deadline to register for the January class is Jan. 16.

Other classes will follow each month until June.

Though the Y will continue offering classes into the summer, Aquatics Director Adam West said those interested could benefit from taking classes earlier.

“A lot of the pools try to get their hiring done by May,” said West, who teaches classes at the Greystone YMCA along with others.

The certification class is a four-day course, usually running Wednesdays through Fridays from 4-9 p.m. each day and then Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for a total of 20-25 hours.

“Over the course of those days, they’ll be trained and certified in lifeguarding, CPR, AED, first aid, oxygen tank, EpiPen and blood borne pathogen,” West said.

There are prerequisites for the class that participants are tested on before they can proceed.

Aspiring lifeguards must prove that they can complete a 300-yard swim using only freestyle and breast stroke, tread water for 2 minutes using only their legs, and pass the “brick test,” where the participant swims to retrieve a 10-pound brick in the water, returns to the surface and swims on their back with hands on the brick 20 yards back to the starting point and exits the water without using a ladder or steps within 1:40.

“If they don’t do that, they can’t continue,” West said about the prerequisites. “We get a lot of kids that don’t pass just because they’re not used to swimming on their back or just using their legs.”

Anyone who fails the test does not necessarily lose their registration fee, which can be transferred to a different class, giving the participant time to improve and then take the class again.

Other than the prerequisites, the only other requirements are that participant be at least 15 years of age and pay the registration fee.

A $70 non-refundable deposit is due at the time of registration, and then $150 is due the second day of the class for those who pass the initial tests.

Each class is typically limited to 12 participants. The deadline to register is usually Mondays before classes that begin on Wednesdays.

Those interested can register by visiting YMCAbham.org/greystone and then clicking the “Register for programs” link at the top of the page, emailing West at awest@ymcabham.org or calling the Greystone branch at 981-0144.

For more information, including a schedule of upcoming classes, visit the branch’s main page, click the “Youth Development” link in the middle of the page, scroll down to the “Swimming, Swim Team and more” section and then click on “lifeguarding classes.”

West said he and others in similar positions often hire lifeguards that complete their classes.

Greystone YMCA has about 25 lifeguard positions and 10-15 swim instructor positions, and 10-20 new hires each year, West said.

“We kind of use these classes as an interview process,” West said. “We get to spend four days with them and see their maturity. It’s a serious thing. We teach them how to be preventative instead of reactive, but they also have to be able to react to things also.”