CONCOURSE, The Bronx (PIX11) — When they open to the public in less than two weeks, New York City’s public pools will not be able to offer free swimming lessons, as they usually do in the summer, due to a shortage of lifeguards nationwide.

The Parks Department announced the situation on Tuesday evening, and on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams was dealing with the fallout, vowing to try and find ways to boost the city’s lifeguard ranks. 
The cuts come as the New York metro area has seen 12 drownings in the last 10 days. 

The announcement was made by the Parks Department on its Twitter feed on Tuesday evening. “Due to the national lifeguard shortage,” the tweet began, “unfortunately we will not be hosting swim programs, including lap swim, senior swim, and Learn to Swim, at our outdoor pools this summer.”

It went on to say that open swimming would remain, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with an hour-long break at all city pools, from 3 to 4 p.m.

Corey Morgan, the father of a 15-month-old boy, said that the announcement was detrimental in a variety of ways. 

“It’s tough for the young kids, especially for the community,” he said, at a playground outside of Mullaly Park Pool.

On Wednesday, Mayor Adams tried to walk back the Parks Department announcement, saying that the city would try, if at all possible, to come up with a way to boost its ranks of lifeguards in order to have swimming lessons available when public pools open for the summer.

“We want to think outside the box,” the mayor said at an event in a public park in the Bronx on Wednesday afternoon.

He suggested that the city might be able to recruit high school swim team members to sign up and pass the lifeguard exam. 

“Whatever we can do to deal with the problem, we’re gonna try to do it,” Mayor Adams said. 

One parent who said the she’d hoped to bring her 9 year old to the park for lessons, expressed skepticism.

“I don’t feel confident,” the woman, who only gave her first name, Quasha, said about the mayor’s pledge to find more lifeguards. Still, she added, “I hope he do[es]. It would be great. 

For his part, Mayor Adams said that if more lifeguards can’t be found, the city will ensure that conditions at public pools promote safety.

“One thing we’re not going to do,” the mayor said, “We’re not going to put New Yorkers in an unsafe environment.”

An aquatics safety expert, Jim Spiers, said in an interview that the national lifeguard shortage is real. Spiers, the founder and CEO of SwimJim, an aquatics safety training company, said that virtually every entity that’s in need of lifeguards is shorthanded right now, including his organization. 

However, he added, for the country’s largest city, which serves tens of thousands of swimmers on any given day, to be lacking the ability to provide swimming lessons, is potentially hazardous.

“It is a less safe environment without lessons,” Spiers said in an interview. “Swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning by 88 percent. So yes, yes, it’s a huge issue, and it is a huge risk.”

He said that parents have always been a vital part in keeping children safe in aquatic environments, and that their role is all the more important if Learn To Swim classes don’t get taught this summer. 

“Parents need to be vigilant, they need to be present,” Spiers said, “not on their phones, not on their iPads, not inside getting their kids a drink of  water. They need to be watching them, watching them consistently, and know where they are at all times.”