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After Season Lost to COVID, Philly Calls on Lifeguards to Save Summer at Public Pools

'I want to be crystal clear: we cannot have a pool season if we don’t have the lifeguards,' Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said

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What to Know

  • The Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation plans on opening 68 free public pools this summer after last summer was lost to COVID.
  • To do so they need to hire around 400 lifeguards, mostly starting from scratch.
  • The lifeguard gigs pay nearly $15 an hour and training is available to get the guards ready for summer.

Lifeguards are needed to not only potentially save lives at Philadelphia's free public pools, but also to save summer fun.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen kids splashing around, carefree under the sun. After the city's 68 public pools didn't open last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, the city is going into this summer without an established based of lifeguards.

"We don’t have any certified lifeguards that are coming back from last summer so this means that we have to go out and recruit, you know, new people, new young people, new older people -- we’ll take anyone who wants to guard this summer," Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said.

Pay starts at $14.75 per hour and lifeguards can make up to $16.97 per hour. The city hopes that pay draws some swimmers to the lifeguard chair, but they also hope a sense of civic pride drives people to apply.

"For young people that can't belong to a private swim club, or don’t have a pool in their backyard, or can’t make it down to the Jersey Shore this is their summer, this is their summer vacation," Ott Lovell said.

The city recognizes the importance of not only opening pools, but also summer camps, Play Streets and other summer programming that young people can look forward to. Ott Lovell called the opening of pools "critical" to young people, especially after a year of missing friends.

You don’t have to be an Olympic-level swimmer to jump into the lifeguard application pool. You do, however, need to be 16 or older with basic swim skills. Instructors will make sure you learn the rest in time for pools to start opening in June.

"We're looking to train about 400 lifeguards this season," water safety instructor Will Coleman -- who is already getting back into swimming shape -- said.

Philadelphia has a plan to reopen free public pools this summer, but they need to hire hundreds of lifeguards to do so. Access to swimming lessons helps children and adults learn the important life skill.

Each one of those instructors will give children around the city a chance to cool off this summer.

Want to jump into the city's lifeguard pool? Click here to apply.

You may be wondering how pools will operate safely when they reopen, here’s what we can tell you about that: Social distancing and mask wearing will be enforced in the line to get in and masks must be worn everywhere except when in the pool.

They city will also be symptom screening and taking down swimmers' information for contact tracing – just in case.

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