RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The City of Raleigh has a new free lifeguard training program it hopes will expand its pool of applicants for the upcoming summer, and going forward.

The City of Raleigh’s Aquatic Director, Aaron Weaver, said some people would tryout for the required certification course who weren’t quite ready and had to be turned away. He said they were often times pointed to being a cashier or camp counselor instead.

“We needed a way that we could offer them an opportunity to continue to practice,” Weaver said.

He hopes the city’s weekly basic training at Pullen Aquatic Center will spark interest in becoming a lifeguard and get people ready for the certification course.

“We came up with the idea of doing the basic training so that each week we would have an instructor on site that could work with them and provide them some feedback, some tips, some pointers on things that they could do to perhaps maybe just get over that hurdle of wherever they were skill wise to get where they need to be to take the lifeguard training course,” Weaver said.

Last summer the city struggled to hire enough lifeguards to open pools on schedule.

Weaver said the city has about 130 lifeguards right now, that is more than this time last year. He’s looking to bring that number to between 240-260 to operate at pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels during the peak of summer.

Christian Bing hopes to be one of those lifeguards.

“I wanna be a lifeguard because I love swimming, and I also love helping people and this is a good combination of both,” Bing said.

He is taking part in the training.

“I think that it’s definitely important because I was a little tired after doing the brick test, and so I think that doing it some more, and working on everything together will help me be able to finish the test with flying colors,” Bing said.

A certain base level of swimming is required to take part in the training. Click here for information on hours and to register.

The starting pay for lifeguards is $13 an hour.