Lifeguards desperately needed for beaches, clubs on Long Island

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Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Friday was a beautiful day at the New York Beach Club - but one without any swimming in the ocean.

ATLANTIC BEACH, Long Island (WABC) -- Friday was a beautiful day at the New York Beach Club - but one without any swimming in the ocean. In fact, throughout the entire incorporated village of Atlantic Beach, ocean swimming won't be set to open up until well after Father's Day Weekend. This is due to COVID restrictions being lifted fairly late, but mostly due to a serious lifeguard shortage.

Lifeguard Training New York has about 2,500 lifeguards on a group chat - nearly all have jobs, and many more are needed.

"A lot of different places are calling us and saying 'hey, we need lifeguards. LIU Post - we spoke with them this morning, Hofstra University - we spoke with them this morning, a bunch of beach clubs, yacht clubs, marinas - day camps," said Motti Eliyahu.

At the private New York Beach Club, they have finally filled all their shifts, but they are still looking for backups. The good news is, the pool is staffed.

"I mean with four kids, it's extremely critical because if I can't have eyes on them, somebody else has to," says Julia Makowsky.

Those who train the lifeguards cite several reasons for the shortage, including a lack of spending money for classes, and no visas for foreign language lifeguards.

"A lot of people are not in the same shape as they use to be. We all know, we got that COVID weight," added Eliyahu.

New York Beach Club Executive Director Bob Sands says most of the lifeguard certifications are two-year certifications.

"So, needless to say, those that got certified in 2019 found themselves post-COVID without certification," he says.

On the beach, guests are taking it in stride - sticking to activities at the water's edge, well aware that this situation is one of many resulting from a difficult year.

"I just think that it's par for the course. There's a lot of critical shortages everywhere, and we're just gonna make the best of it," said Savitri Tu.

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