NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City only has about one-third of the lifeguards needed to patrol beaches and pools this summer.
There are 280 lifeguards returning and another 200 recruits in training but the city needs 1,400 in total.
Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue sounded the alarm before the city council's parks committee Monday, saying the shortage could lead to reduced hours.
"In order to open all beaches and pools we need about 1,400. If we don't get to a number of around 800 or 900, we would open for one shift of our pools and beaches, so like 11-7," Donoghue said.
What's happening in New York City is not unique -- there is a shortage of lifeguards across the country.
The city says it is an ongoing, rolling process with an ideal target date of July 4th weekend.
The city has increased pay for lifeguards and will bring back free swimming lessons this summer.
Paulana Lamonier, the founder of Black People Will Swim, is desperately looking for lifeguards to join her team at a time when the city is also trying to fill that void.
"Imagine learning this life skill from someone who looks like you, been where you are, is shaped like you, its a sense of familiarity when you conquer your fears," Lamonier said.
In 2019 she started with just 30 students in a backyard pool and now there are 200.
Through the program, folks also learn how to save themselves and others in the water and would be ideal candidates for city lifeguards.
"They have gone on to get certified, have gone on to become swim instructors," Lamonier said.
The city hopes that bringing back swim classes and summer camp programming will help feed the pipeline for the next generation of lifeguards.
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