Philly offers incentives, possible pay increases to attract lifeguards

The city had to keep some pools closed last year after staffing shortages

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — There may be plenty of days still coming when old man winter may take the driver's seat, but that's not stopping the city of Philadelphia from putting out a call for lifeguards.

Officials are trying to avoid a repeat of the pool dilemma they had last summer.

In 2021, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation was only able to open around 60% of its public pools.

"We had this perfect storm of issues: The COVID-19 pandemic, not having had our pool open for two years, all of our lifeguards needed to be rectified, and then a labor shortage," said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.

She added that they are hard at work in their efforts to make sure all of the city's 60-plus pools can open this year, saying they have a number of special programs aimed at getting lifeguards to those pools.

"For young people ages 16-24, the certification costs are going to be covered, so they’re not going to have to put out those funds, a couple of hundred dollars for certification," Ott Lovell said.

She said they are also working to beef up lifeguard pay.

"We're not quite sure what that number will be, but it will be north of $15 an hour, the $15.25 that lifeguards are currently paid."

Ott Lovell said they need about 400 lifeguards to open all the city's pools.

She added that with so much gun violence and other stress factors at play, these pools are needed now more than ever.

"Young people need these positive outlets," Ott Lovell said.

"They need a place to cool off. They need a place to go in the summer, and parents need it, too."

Click here for more information on becoming a Philadelphia lifeguard.

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