New York City to cut some swim programs due to lifeguard shortage

ASTORIA, Queens (WABC) -- The New York City Parks Department admitted on Tuesday night that the nation's lifeguard shortage means there will not be enough lifeguards for the city's five dozen public pools.

The Parks Department tweeted, that due to the national lifeguard shortage, it won't be hosting its usual swim programs. But outdoor pools will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"Swim lessons, like the physical activity, living in New York it's hard to get them to run around because they can't do that in the apartment, so they need to get that energy out, you take them out swimming," parent Navin Seebaran said.

City pools open on June 28. That's just two weeks from now.

"I hope they can find lifeguards to get it open and keep it open," parent Maureen Howard said.

But there's not enough time to train and certify lifeguards for this summer to have a full complement of swimming programs.

"I think going forward they have to communicate with the seasonal workforce in January instead of at the end of April and May," New York City lifeguard Janet Fash said.

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As more local pools and parks are re-opening from pandemic shutdowns, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging families to provide swim lessons.



Fash is a longtime city lifeguard and will be at Rockaway Beach this summer.

She says yes, there is a national shortage, which like every shortage right now is due to two years of COVID impacts, but the city and its unions didn't anticipate demand this summer.

"Some lifeguards went ahead and got other jobs during COVID," Fash said.

But she thinks it's not too late -- the city just needs to be creative.

"I wish that there was a junior lifeguard program," Fash said. "I wish that the high schools were more involved in recruitment of lifeguards for the future."

"Maybe the lifeguards can ask different people that they know," 9-year-old Camila Oviedo Cardenas said.

Cardenas' recruitment suggestion isn't too far off.

Fash says the city should bring back weekend lifeguards, part-timers who have other careers.

"Those are people that have a past of life guarding and they love it," Fash said.


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