Mayor Adams blames cuts to NYC swim classes on ‘national lifeguard shortage’

·2 min read

Mayor Adams blamed a reduction in the city’s swimming programs on a “national lifeguard shortage” on Wednesday, but said he’s still searching for ways to ensure swimming lessons are available to city kids this summer.

“The shortage of lifeguards is a national problem,” Adams said at an unrelated afternoon press conference in the Bronx. “Previous administration did not do training, swimming training also because of the shortage.”

Hizzoner said his administration plans to “think outside the box” to persuade high school swim team members to join the city’s lifeguard ranks.

“We’re going to push the envelope and see, is there a way we can do it,” he said. “We don’t want the drowning numbers we have witnessed.”

A day earlier, the city’s Parks Department announced on Twitter that it would “not be hosting swim programs, including lap swim, senior swim and Learn to Swim, at our outdoor pools this summer” due to the current dearth of lifeguards.

As Adams mentioned, drownings are a real concern in the Big Apple. Most recently, two 13-year-old boys drowned after falling into Jamaica Bay last week. Last year, an 18-year-old drowned at Rockaway Beach after jumping into a section of the beach closed off to swimmers. And in 2020, two boys drowned after jumping off the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge in Inwood.

“Our young people should be getting swimming lessons,” he said. “I’m going to sit with the [Parks] commissioner, and say, what are some other ways we can do it?”

Adams brushed aside a question about whether the problem could be solved by simply allocating more money to the Parks Department and offering lifeguards better salaries.

“No,” he said. “Life guards — they do it because of the love of the swimming, because of the love of protecting people. ... It’s not about dollars and cents. It’s about having people that enjoy being lifeguards. Like, I do this job because I love it.”

The Parks Department noted a day earlier that outdoor pools would remain open this summer each day from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.–7 p.m.