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New York City residents and visitors will need to be extra careful in the water this summer.
The NYC Parks Department announced in a tweet on Monday that all swim programs will be canceled for the entire summer due to the national lifeguard shortage.
This includes swim programming like early bird and night owl lap swims, senior splash, learn to swim, swim team, water aerobics and day camps at outdoor pools.
“Outdoor pools will remain open each day for general swim from 11a.m.-3 p.m. and from 4 p.m.–7 p.m.,” NYC Parks tweeted.
In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, the department explained that hiring qualified people has been a “challenge,” as it has been for the rest of the nation, and continues to be an issue amid the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that New Yorkers rely on our city pools as their summer vacation destinations, and we are proud that we offer free access across the city to help New Yorkers safely stay cool on hot summer days,” the statement reads.
Hiring qualified people has been a “challenge.”
“Safety is our top priority — It’s because of this that we prioritize access to the millions who visit our pools annually rather than redirecting recourses to ancillary programming.”
Lifeguard James Dukas watches as people enjoy a hot afternoon at the Astoria Pool in Queens on June 29, 2016, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
The agency encouraged all former NYC Park lifeguards to get re-certified for summer 2022.
The city trains and certifies lifeguards up until the July 4th weekend.
Beaches and pools are then staffed according to the final number of lifeguards available.
As opening day approaches on Tuesday, June 28, the NYC Parks department is planning for city pools to stay open for general swim.
The current lifeguard shortage first began during the pandemic. (iStock )
That day — June 28 — is the day after NYC public schools close for the summer.
The lifeguard shortage first began amid the pandemic, when all lifeguarding courses, recertification testing and swim classes were canceled.
Since then, the industry has been attempting to play catch-up, even though this is the third year in a row that New York City has canceled outdoor swim programs.
The lifeguard chair is empty, and the beach sparsely populated, at Old Orchard Beach in Maine on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Nearly one-third of the nation’s 309,000 public pools have been impacted by the shortage, with many limiting their hours or actually closing altogether.
American Lifeguard Association’s director of health and safety Bernard J. Fisher II revealed in an interview with Fox News Digital last week that the shortage is bound to get worse as the summer continues.
“It’s going to get worse,” he said. “It’s going to be a total disaster in August, the hottest month of the year,” he added bluntly.
A lifeguard wearing a face covering surveys the water at Hampton Beach in Hampton, New Hampshire, on August 5, 2020. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)
Fisher put into perspective how desperate the U.S. has become for lifeguards, mentioning that America’s top training entities for lifeguards historically pulled in about 300,000 trainees per year.
Returning to normal employment levels would require at least double the number of lifeguards, said Fisher — bringing in 600,000 to just under one million candidates per year.
“If we don’t have the lifeguards to open [pools] to the public, [we should] open them for lifeguard training and swimming classes,” he said.
“But we’re doing just the opposite,” he also said.
Angelica Stabile is a lifestyle writer for Fox News Digital. Follow her on Twitter at @atstabile.