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There's a nationwide lifeguard shortage, and it's starting to hit South Florida

 Lifeguard Maria Aponte walks to the shore with her rescue board at Fort Lauderdale beach on June 13, 2022.
John McCall
/
South Florida Sun Sentinel
Lifeguard Maria Aponte walks to the shore with her rescue board at Fort Lauderdale beach on June 13, 2022.

On a peaceful June morning at the beach in Deerfield, a swimmer glided past, a woman napped in the sun, and the lifeguards set up at their stations, unhurried. There was no emergency. And yet Mike Brown, the beach’s ocean rescue chief, looked out at the water with unease.

“I don’t know what to do; you have any advice?” he asked, semi-jokingly.

Six years after parts of the “Baywatch” movie were filmed here, Brown is struggling to sell the dream. Deerfield Beach’s lifeguard tryouts used to attract 20, sometimes 30, hopefuls for only two positions. At his last tryout, Brown needed to fill eight positions. Four people showed up.

A nationwide lifeguard shortage is acute in South Florida, where lifeguards work year-round, not just in summer. This year, beachside cities have failed to garner the kind of interest they once relied on, many with more vacancies on their hands than they can fill, their lifeguards working overtime. Meanwhile, alongside the deluge of new residents, more tourists are expected to visit South Florida this summer than in previous years, adding to the strain.

Read more from our news partner, the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

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Shira Moolten | South Florida Sun Sentinel