When she was 16 years old Robin Borlandoe worked as a lifeguard in Philadelphia. Since then, she has become a mother, a grandmother, a city employee and then a retiree. But now the 70-year-old is going back to work — as a lifeguard.
She says she is doing it for the kids.
“The situation that we’re in here in Philadelphia is just dire, and I just wanted to do something to help out some kind of way, to help a child,” Borlandoe said.
Borlandoe says she had to get back in shape to get certified, but she learned some lessons in the process that she plans to pass on to the kids this summer.
“When I started to train, I could only do three laps. And I had to stop six times,” she said. “You have to do 12.”
Philadelphia Parks and Recreation is doing what it can this summer to turn around the persistent national lifeguard shortage and create a pipeline to lifeguard certification in Philadelphia for years to come.
In Kensington, the neighborhood with the lowest rate of lifeguard recruitment, Parks and Recreation is teaching all registered summer day campers to swim. Lincoln High School’s indoor pool will host free lifeguard training courses throughout the summer.
“It’s just a matter of giving back to somebody, some kind of way, not only just with swimming, just in life — everyday journeys that these young kids have — because it’s not easy for them.”