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NYC Still Doesn’t Have Enough Lifeguards

You didn't think the Adams administration was going to solve this one, right? And other links to start your day.

8:39 AM EDT on April 28, 2023

Imagine this this summer, anytime outside of very narrow hours. (Hell Gate)

Last year, the Adams administration canceled swim classes for children and adult lap swim at public pools on account of what they deemed a "nationwide lifeguard shortage." This decision came after two years during which high school pools were closed due to COVID (which limited the number of teenagers with CPR training and lifeguarding experience), as well as a general decline of people in the workforce looking for temporary work. Still, the Adams administration resisted raising wages for lifeguards or offering bonuses for workers (unlike other nearby locales), until it was far too late in the season to make much of a difference.  

This year, the administration has stepped up its efforts, raising pay and making it generally easier for people to become lifeguards by eliminating onerous requirements that often had nothing to do with lifesaving. The result? Almost exactly the same number of lifeguards that the City had last year. On Wednesday, the Parks Department said during a City Council hearing that the agency is on pace to hire around 900 lifeguards—roughly the same figure as 2022 when programs were cut, and pools were literally only half-open because of the lack of lifeguards. 

So is adult swim, and even more importantly, the City's classes teaching kids how to swim, over forever? We reached out to the Parks Department and will update if and when we hear back.

It's very possible. Under Mayor Adams, the City doesn't seem all that determined to continue to fill out the lifeguard ranks. According to the Parks Department, the City stopped recruiting for new lifeguards last month. 

That's not sitting right with Queens Councilmember Shekar Krishnan, who chairs the Council's Parks Committee. 

"It is deeply concerning to learn that this year’s lifeguard recruitment is on pace with last year’s, at best," he told Hell Gate. "These shortages have a big impact on pools and beach hours during hot months, or worse—New Yorkers risking their lives while swimming without a lifeguard."

Specifically, Krishnan doesn't want this situation to keep happening year after year, where the Parks Department announces, once it's already too late, that vital services for New Yorkers during the summer will have to be cut. 

Krishnan has introduced a bill that would make the Parks Department give regular updates on their lifeguard recruitment efforts, so that the Council can take steps to avert another lifeguard shortage before the Parks Department—and by extension, the mayor—diminishes yet another summer. 

"NYC Parks will have to publicly report the pace of lifeguard hiring, training received, and the quantity of—and reason for—closed pools and beaches," he told Hell Gate. 

We'd encourage you to become a lifeguard today to help keep pools open, but apparently the Parks Department doesn't even want your application anymore. "There are no lifeguard qualifying test dates available for registration at this time," the website says. 

Some stories to start your day (unlike a lot of pools, these links will stay open): 

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