Lifeguarding 101

 Lifeguarding 101

By Beth Hanning

In the last week, two teenagers drowned while swimming off of both Coney Island and Riis Park. In the Coney Island incident, two brothers were swimming in an area that was prohibited to swim and in the Rockaway drowning, the drowning happened around 7:45 p.m., again when there are no lifeguards on duty. Of course, as is the case when any tragedy happens, the local politicians come out and whine that there are not enough lifeguards to patrol our 14 miles of beaches.

Why do these politicians continually complain about the lack of lifeguards, but do absolutely nothing to combat the situation. Here are a list of recommendations for our local politicians:

  1. Each borough should give the 16 week lifeguard class. When my daughters took the class, they were able to take it at Far Rockaway High School. Now the class is only in Manhattan. As we all know, the commute is not easy and these young kids do a lot of after school activities, so this may prevent some future lifeguards from taking the course. Maybe if there was a class in the borough of Staten Island, the lifeguards from the Rockaway peninsula would not have to be driven to that borough to patrol their beaches. They currently do not have enough and many Rockaway guards are being stationed there.
  2. Also, while taking the course, the students mostly sit there and listen to the class. They should be swimming more each week. Many kids take the course, but then cannot pass the rigorous exam.
  3. Why do we not have more swimming and water awareness classes in and around New York City? We should definitely be recruiting children in all of the local high schools. The Red Hook Pool is located in the Red Hook Housing Project with over 3,000 residents. Not one guard there lives in the development. I cannot imagine not one teen in the development would not want an excellent summer job?
  4. Why do we not have part time lifeguards? Maybe someone who has a job or an internship Monday through Friday could work weekends?
  5. We also need the lifeguards on longer hours. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. is not a good schedule. Again, thinking back to when my friends were lifeguards, there were two shifts: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We definitely need guards on past 6 p.m.
  6. This past summer, a few local lifeguards have told me about being mistreated by the beachgoers. One lifeguard was whistling for people to stay away from the rock jetties and to come closer to shore, and they were being harassed by the surrounding lovely visitors to our beaches. The beachgoers were upset at the noise! Maybe listen to directions and the lifeguard would not have to blow the whistle so often.

I have spoken to local politicians about a few of these issues over the years. I am not sure why the higher ups do not want to address this situation except when given a microphone to complain about it.

Disclaimer: I have nothing but respect for our local lifeguards, some as young as 16, who patrol our shores. I just wish now that the jetties are in place on Beach 121st Street that we had some…

Have a great week everyone!

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