2006-10-20 / Front Page

Apps Due For Lifeguard Training Program

By Brian Magoolaghan

Applications are being accepted for a free program that prepares people for jobs as New York City lifeguards - even though many who participated in the program last year say they became targets and didn't get a fair shot during testing.

The Department of Education-sponsored program allows lifeguard hopefuls to train in pools at Far Rockaway High School and at John Adams High School in Ozone Park for months leading up to the city tryouts.

Starting November 4, applicants who meet the requirements will swim for two hours on one day a week after school and for three hours on Saturday or Sunday. The prep course runs through May 2007.

The Department of Parks and Recreation starts its own lifeguard recruitment and training program each year, usually in March.

But past participants in the DOE program, which only started last year, have accused Parks and DC 37, the union representing the lifeguards, of treating them unfairly and flunking them on the test. The new program is seen as a threat to the longstanding system, they say.

The controversy has resulted in special community board meetings and, last week, the board accepted a committee report that says the city's lifeguard recruitment and testing procedure is seriously flawed. The board is calling for City Council oversight hearings on the matter.

Hank Iori, who has been involved with the program from the start and has made some of the allegations against Parks and the union, said he's hopeful that the issues will be addressed before next summer and that kids who participate this time will get a fair shake.

"There's a group of people now that are determined to see this corrected," he said. "If the test is handled in an honest fashion they'll have a leg up."

To qualify you must be at least 16 years old by May 25, 2007; have a minimum 20/30 vision in one eye and at least 20/40 in the other eye; must be in good academic standing and maintain good grades while in training; and must submit an approval form signed by a parent or guardian. Applicants must be able to swim 50 yards in 45 seconds or less (the Department of Parks and Recreation will later require 50 yards in 35 seconds or less).

Interested applicants should contact Hank Iori at HIori@schools.

nyc.gov. Applicants will receive a response within 48 hours.

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