Lifeguard Shortage Spares Chester, but Closes Some Pools and Jersey Beaches

Duane Lee
Image via David Swanson, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Duane Lee in Chester from a previous summer.

The pools will be open in Chester this summer but elsewhere, a shortage of lifeguards is threatening beach and pools throughout the Philadelphia region and New Jersey, writes Erin McCarthy for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The municipal pool in Chester has had no problem hiring and retaining lifeguards, said Duane Lee, the city’s deputy director of parks, recreation, and public property.

 “I pay them well, so we don’t have a shortage of lifeguards,” he said.

All of Lee’s guards come from Chester and have a strong rapport with pool members, especially children. The local connection keeps them coming back.

Elsewhere, workers are taking summer jobs with higher pay and less risk.

“They can go across the street and make more money pouring coffee instead of saving lives,” said Cape May Beach Capt. Marty Franco.

Cape May Beach Patrol for the second year in a row needs to hire two dozen more guards. It will be closing some beaches because of the shortage.

Ventnor and Avalon report they will have enough guards to cover the beaches.

Philadelphia’s 65 public pools, a respite for children plagued by gun violence, are short about 50 lifeguards.

Read more at The Philadelphia Inquirer about the lifeguard shortage.