NYC’s outdoor swim programs won’t return this summer due to ‘lifeguard shortage’

June 15, 2022

 Photo by Danny Avila for NYC Parks

The New York City Parks Department on Tuesday announced that a number of the city’s outdoor swim programs would not be returning for the summer season due to a “national shortage of lifeguards.” Lap swim, senior swim, water aerobics, swim team and day camp, and Learn to Swim are among the programs that will not be returning for a third consecutive year.

“Due to the national lifeguard shortage, unfortunately we will not be hosting swim programs, including lap swim, senior swim, and Learn to Swim, at our outdoor pools this summer,” NYC Parks tweeted on Tuesday.

The adult lap swim program was first discontinued in the summer of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the blog Hell Gate. Despite a drop in cases and the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, the program was not reinstated for the summer of 2021.

The Parks department blamed the end of the programs on the lifeguard shortage which has affected public pools around the country since the pandemic began. According to Newsweek, at least one-third of all public pools in the United States are at risk of closure or must change their hours due to staff shortages.

“Like the entire country, it’s been a challenge recruiting enough qualified people who can pass the NYC Lifeguard requirements, and pandemic impacts on recruitment continue,” Crystal Howard, a spokesperson for NYC Parks, told Gothamist. “As we do every year, we are continuing to train and certify lifeguards up to the July 4th weekend.”

However, the decision is not final until the department issues an official evaluation on July 4. Many New Yorkers have expressed frustration with the ending of the programs which provided city dwellers with a respite from the summer heat. Others are concerned that it will be more difficult for young New Yorkers to learn how to swim. Just Friday, two teenage boys drowned in Jamaica Bay in Queens.

Mayor Eric Adams said that the city would examine the end of the Learn to Swim program and look for alternatives, stating in an interview with NY1: “We’re going to see if we can speak to some of our schools where we have swimming programs to get young people engaged and I’m with you, we have to teach our young people how to swim.”

While lap swim and other programs won’t be held as of now, the city’s outdoor pools will stay open for general swim every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.


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