BENTON, Ark – The River Center in Benton is launching a new training program in hopes to recruit more lifeguards this summer.

Since 2020, aquatic directors across the nation have had trouble filling lifeguard openings.

“There were times where even our bosses had to get on the stand so we could get in the water and teach a swim lesson,” The River Center lifeguard Brendon Bush said.

Aquatics Director Adam Nelsen says in the River Center had about 15 lifeguards in 2020, down from a normal year where they would have 35.

“We have to get really creative on how we run our we run our amenities, how we do hours of operation, how we set up our rotation,” Nelsen said.

Those changes are sliding their way into the training program.

This year Benton is bringing back what is called “blended learning.” It’s a way for potential hires to get their lifeguard certification on their own time.

“You have to have all these different options to be able to reach the new generation,” Nelsen said.

Essentially the training would be split into two parts, one online and the other in person.

“They can do that virtual portion when they’re not able to come and then they could complete the rest of it,” Bush said.

As the days pass, the group is encouraging more to take the plunge, hoping this summer they won’t find themselves in shallow water.

The River Center will be hosting training March 17-19, April 7-8. April 21-23, May 5-7, May 19-21, June 2-4, June 30-2, August 11-13, August 25-27.

For more information, contact Nelsen at