May 25, 2023
Temple students can earn three college credits if they work as lifeguards at city pools this summer, officials announced Thursday.
The new program aims to recruit more lifeguards to man Philadelphia's 74 public pools, which usually open for the season in late June. The goal is to hire 400 summer workers, staving off staffing issues that closed several pools last year.
All currently enrolled Temple students are eligible for the incentive, which will be offered through the school's College of Public Health. To become a lifeguard, applicants must pass a screening test and complete a Red Cross certification course. That test includes swimming 300 yards nonstop and treading water for two minutes using only one's legs. Applicants must also retrieve a 10-pound brick from a deep well, return to the surface and swim 20 yards with the brick, again using only their legs to propel them.
The city is currently offering free training at five rec centers and schools to prepare prospective employees for the screening. Those locations include the Roxborough YMCA, Samuel Recreation Center, Abraham Lincoln High School, Friends Select School and St. Joseph's Preparatory School.
"Our city lifeguards are highly-skilled and highly-trained first responders," said Will Coleman, a water safety instructor. "I’m thrilled that this program is being offered to Temple students, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the pool deck this summer."
The new partnership between Temple and Philadelphia Parks & Rec is the latest city effort to boost hiring rates at pools. Those efforts have included cash incentives; all job seekers who applied by April 15 were eligible for a $1,000 bonus, while those who applied by May 15 were eligible for $500. The city has also waived the Red Cross certification fee, which is normally $110, for anyone 24 and younger.
This aggressive recruitment is a response to last summer when the city struggled to scrap together 196 lifeguards. The low staffing meant that several pools never opened for the season. To fill in the gaps, people like 70-year-old grandmother Robin Borlandoe returned to the lifeguard chair for the first time in decades.
The city has received 270 applications from certified lifeguards as of May 15, a spokesperson told PhillyVoice. That's 130 more than it received this time last year, and another 70 candidates are currently in the training or application phases of the process.
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