The national lifeguard shortage has forced New York City to eliminate a number of their swimming programs just ahead of the summer months, the city announced Tuesday.
NYC Parks tweeted that a number of their swim programs at their outdoor pools are canceled this summer due to not having enough lifeguards.
"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," the tweet read in part.
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"I’m sure that was a hard decision. But a lot of us have reduced pool hours, programming because there isn’t enough lifeguards to cover all the shifts," said Mary O’Donoghue, the senior director for aquatics at YMCA of Greater New York.
O’Donoghue said the YMCA is trying to fill the void by offering lifeguards lessons for free. Unlike the city, they have enough to teach swim lessons — but even they need more, and are offering new lifeguards a signing bonus.
"Of course, everything down here is water. So if I don’t have lifeguards to watch the water, then we run into issues," said Vanderbilt YMCA Aquatics Director Gary FIzer III.
Mayor Eric Adams said that he’s now pushing his team to think outside the box, tossing out ideas like getting kids on swim teams to lifeguard.
"We are surrounded by water, I think our young people should get swimming lessons," Adams said. "We want to see if there is a creative way we can get it done."
A string of recent drownings in the area have highlighted the importance of swimming safety.
A 2-year-old on Long Island was pulled from the water of a backyard pool in another drowning scare Tuesday.
Yellow tape blocked off the residential area around Barbara Drive in Centereach, as the toddler went under at a home's pool. The boy, whose relatives own the home where the pool is located, was not breathing and was taken to Stony Brook University Hospital. He was said to be in serious condition as of Wednesday morning, according to a Suffolk County police update.
Additionally, just last week two 13-year-olds, Ryan Wong and Daniel Persaud, were with a group of friends along Jamaica Bay when they fell into the water and were swept away. Wong survived, while his friend Persaud did not. His funeral was Tuesday.
Last month, another 2-year-old boy drowned in a backyard pool in Rockland County when the tri-state area was experiencing an unseasonably warm temperatures.
Drowning deaths are not just limited to New York. Various drownings have occurred in neighboring New Jersey over the past couple of weeks -- both in pools and open water.
Two people drowned at a New Jersey lake Tuesday evening. Morris County officials said that EMS personnel were in the parking at Mine Hill Beach along Green Road after 5 p.m., when a group told them that two people went into the water at the sand pits and never came out.
The EMS contacted other first responders from the area, and immediately conducted a search, which came up empty for the 17-year-old and 20-year-old who disappeared, officials said.
Their bodies were recovered hours later.
In another tragedy, two brothers drowned at a school's indoor pool in Bayonne last week.
The school pool is open at night for community use, according to a city official, who said a lifeguard was on duty at the time of the incident. Their 11-year-old sister saw it happen, the official said.
The president of the Bayonne school board told NBC New York over the phone that there are two pools in the Lincoln Community School facility: the main pool where the community swim was held, and a smaller dive pool that is very deep.
The dive pool was closed and lifeguards were watching just the main pool — where everyone who was at the community swim event was supposed to be.
The two teen brothers, 16-year-old Jack Jiang and 19-year-old Chu Ming Zheng, drowned in that side dive pool, the school board official said. However, it was not immediately clear how the pair ended up in that pool.