Coney Island Beach & Boardwalk
The Daily Plant : Wednesday, March 10, 2004
AS THOUGHTS DRIFT TOWARDS WARM WEATHER, PARKS & RECREATION KEEPS ITS EYES ON THE WATER
As most New Yorkers begin looking forward to spring’s arrival, the City is already preparing for summer by stepping up its lifeguard recruitment efforts around the five boroughs — and beyond. Parks & Recreation is currently offering a free qualifying exam for interested lifeguard candidates, and training courses will run through June with the hope of recruiting and training over 1,100 lifeguards in time for summer.
“We need responsible, motivated, dedicated individuals to help safeguard the 11 million swimmers that take a dip in the Big Apple every summer,” said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Being part of the New York City Lifeguard Corps is a fun and rewarding summer job that really makes a difference. You will be working alongside a team of some of the best and most respected lifeguards in the world, and you’ll also learn valuable skills that will help you in any career.”
As part of its efforts, Parks & Recreation has delivered letters and “Lifeguards Wanted” posters to every member of the City Council, State Senate, and State Assembly, and to the borough presidents. Posters decorate the hallways in New York City public schools, and a public service announcement campaign has been launched. Yesterday, Parks & Recreation made a presentation of its plans to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who hopes to raise recruitment numbers in his borough. Brooklyn’s Coney Island receives more beach visitors each year than in any other borough (Rockaway Beach in Queens ranks second), and Brooklyn’s 14 outdoor pools have the second highest attendance (after Manhattan, which has 16 outdoor pools).
Foreign recruitment has also begun. The program, started several years ago, brings foreign students in on a J-1 visa, which allows them to work for three months and travel for the fourth. Already, several new lifeguards have signed on to cross the Atlantic, mainly from Poland and Latvia, both of which have great reputations for top-notch lifeguards.
The requirements for the job aren’t easy, but the rewards are great — especially as summer jobs for high school students. Lifeguards must be 16 years old when they begin working, must be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds, and must have minimum vision of 20/30 in one eye and 20/40 in the other without corrective lenses. Recruits who successfully complete the course are guaranteed a job and will be paid for time spent in training. The starting salary is $10.08 per hour, and lifeguards are expected to work six days a week, including holidays and weekends (when beach and pool attendance is the highest). Exams are held Monday through Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the 59th Street Recreation Center, located at 533 West 59th Street in Manhattan. Candidates who pass the exam will be able to participate in a free lifeguard training course.
Parks & Recreation manages 53 outdoor pools in all five boroughs and 14 miles of beaches. Beaches are open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and pools are open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., seven days a week. Last year, Parks & Recreation recruited and trained close to 1,000 lifeguards, and by July 4, 2003, the City was able to open all of its beach areas for swimming. Also, the number of returning lifeguards has increased each of the last two years, with a 75 percent return rate in 2002 and a 81 percent return rate last year.
This season, the beaches open for swimming on Saturday, May 29 and the pools open on Saturday, June 26. New York City beaches include Orchard Beach in the Bronx, Coney Island and Manhattan Beaches in Brooklyn, Rockaway Beach in Queens, and South Beach, Midland Beach, and Wolfe’s Pond in Staten Island. For more information about the becoming a lifeguard, or to learn more about the City’s beaches and pools, please visit www.nyc.gov/parks or call 311.
Written by Eric Adolfsen
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“Friends at hearths are drawn to the one warm air; strangers meet on beaches drawn to the one wet sea.”
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