May 28, 2022
As the school year draws to a close, many kids and parents in Philadelphia will turn to the city's public pools for a safe, fun place to cool off on hot summer days.
But due to a lifeguard shortage, it's not yet clear how many of the city's 65 pools will open or what their hours will be.
The Parks & Recreation department needs to hire about 60 more guards to have its pools operating at full capacity this summer, FOX29 reports.
At this point, it has enough staff to open about two-thirds of its pools. The Lederer Pool in Fishtown will be the first to open on Independence Day.
The shortage has led one 70-year-old former lifeguard to pick up the job she first worked at age 16. Robin Borlandoe is worried about the city's kids given the gun violence crisis Philadelphia is facing.
“They need something… to do,” she told CBS3. "We need to bring it back to the old days… We dodged dodgeballs, not bullets.”
When Jessica deRivera was a lifeguard at the city pool in Feltonville in the 2000s, she quickly realized how important the facilities are for working class families.
"Kids whose parents couldn’t afford summer camp, or even air conditioning, would show up seven days a week, rain or shine," she wrote in an op-ed for Billy Penn.
Lifeguards usually make $16 per hour and work 35 hours a week through August.
Anyone 16 or older is eligible to become a lifeguard. Candidates don't even need to know how to swim. The Parks & Rec department is offering to teach people, the Inquirer reports.
Additionally, candidates younger than 24 don't need to pay to be certified as a lifeguard, something that usually costs $110.
Being a lifeguard may be a job, but deRivera said it's a particularly fun one.
"I loved earning my first real money," she said. "Even obvious drawbacks like boredom or heat were punctuated by funny things our regulars would say while I taught them to flutter kick, or by the discovery of a $5 lunch platter at the Dominican spot."
Those interested in becoming the position can learn how to apply on the city's website. The process involves several swimming tests and a lifeguard certification course.