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Saturday, January 28, 2023
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Philly Is Recruiting Lifeguards Who Don’t Know How to Swim

'I wouldn’t say they can’t swim, they just can’t pass our screening test on the first try...'

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is so desperate for lifeguards that it is willing to hire people who do not know how to swim, Philadelphia magazine reported.

It blamed the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent budget cuts for depleting the workforce after the pools shut down in the summer of 2020.

As has been the case with many other unintended consequences of the COVID response—from school and business closures to vaccine side-effects—rebounding from the draconian pandemic policies that were inflicted by left-leaning states and cities during the final year of the Trump administration has not been quite so simple.

With teens already dropping out of the workforce prior to the pandemic, due to factors like immigration creating fewer low-wage summer jobs, the current crop of young people may be accustomed to a more sedentary lifestyle, replete with entitlements.

Last year’s labor shortage forced the closure of many pools nationwide—and the trend appears likely to continue heading into 2023’s scorching summer months.

In order to boost its rapidly dwindling lifeguard force, Philly decided to relax its prerequisites, among which was the ability to swim.

Those who cannot swim will receive free swimming lessons.

It also has upped the pay rate to $16 per hour minimum, while also agreeing to cover the cost for additional certifications, such as the Red Cross Lifeguard Certification.

Per the American Lifeguard Association, the lifeguard shortage has forced at least one third of the nation’s public pools to either close, or continue with limited operations.

Last summer, Fox News noted that the shortage may be here to stay.

According to the ALA’s director of health and safety, Bernard J. Fisher II, he has “never seen it this bad”—and even with the extra incentives and lower standards some pools may be unable to recruit the necessary staff.

“A lot of our cities during the summer, we’re not even going to have a community pool open for them,” Fisher said.

Kathryn Ott Lovell , Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation Department commissioner, defended the city’s decision to lower the bar.

She claimed that the prospective lifeguards do know how to swim, they just cannot pass the swimming test.

“We only have to train a handful of folks,” she said. “I wouldn’t say they can’t swim, they just can’t pass our screening test on the first try.”

She also noted that the inability to find employees has affected numerous other businesses in the city.

“Every fast food place, every retail location is hiring,” Lovell said. “They’re offering signing bonuses, and higher hourly rates.”

Headline USA’s Ben Sellers contributed to this report.

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