Now Open for Season Despite Lifeguard Shortage – NBC New York

New York City’s public pools are set to reopen on Tuesday, even though one crucial element is in short supply: lifeguards.

All 51 of the outdoor pools throughout the five boroughs will be open for the rest of the summer, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There are only 626 lifeguards ready to go, the city said, less than half of the goal of 1,400 lifeguards.

When asked about the severe shortage, Mayor Eric Adams said Monday that it is a nationwide problem, and that the city has “a couple of creative ideas” to address the issue.

“We’ve got to do more, but this is a real shortage,” the mayor said.

But a union that represents lifeguards said that the solution does not need to be creative — it all comes down to money.

“As we have proposed for months, the administration must raise wages to recruit and retain these professionals, such as the state and other municipalities have already done. You cannot afford to cut corner when water safety is at stake,” said DC 37, the city’s largest public employee union.

City Hall countered that, saying that a fair wage is already being offered. They said that training and lifeguard accreditation were disrupted in the pandemic. But Adams said that won’t stop swimming lessons this summer.

“Our public pools are considered to be the French Riviera for those communities that have to stay home, so we want to open as many as possible,” he said.

The city said that operations of the pools will be adjusted based on lifeguard headcounts, saying that pools can only be opened if there is adequate coverage. Some of the larger pools may have limited capacity, a parks official said, as has happened in the past — and some could be closed entirely on certain days in a worst-case scenario.

There were no plans to keep any pools permanently closed due to staffing restraints, an official said. However, the city had already canceled lap swimming programs, as well as free swimming lessons that long been an important resource, especially in low-income communities.

Nearly 4,000 people die from drowning every year in the U.S., and here’s what the U.S. Swim School Association and the American Red Cross say you should do if someone is drowning.

The outdoor pool openings come a month after a tragic start to the city’s beach season, with multiple drownings in the Rockaways. In the tri-state, there have been more than a dozen drownings overall since the start of the summer season.

On June 10, Ryan Wong and Daniel Persaud were with a group of friends when the two fell into the water and were swept away. The two were pulled into the rough currents, which a nearby sign warns of along with sudden drop-offs, and their bodies were later found in the water. Those who frequent the beach say that not many people swim there, and it’s more popular with fishermen and kite surfers.

A week later, two swimmers drowned in separate incidents at Rockaway Beach. A 16-year-old girl was pulled from the water by civilians near Beach 108th Street at the popular Queens swimming spot, according to police. Around that same time, a young man was taken from the water near Beach 98th Street, police said. Both were pronounced dead at the hospital.

The race to save two swimmers pulled from the waters off the Rockaways Friday ended in tragedy, the latest in a string of drownings across the tri-state.NBC New York’s Checkey Beckford reports.

The incidents were part of a frightening and alarming trend of deadly drownings throughout the tri-state area in this early part of summer, which have served as jolting and tragic reminder of potential summer dangers — made that much more alarming by the national lifeguard shortage.

At least half of the drownings reported since June 6 across New York and New Jersey have involved victims aged 20 or younger.

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