2007-12-28 / Front Page

Tis The Season To Look For Lifeguards

By Nicholas Briano

The time has rolled around again for Rockaway residents to try out for the Department of Parks and Recreation's lifeguard training program, this year to be held at the soon to become extinct Far Rockaway High School.

To enter the training program, a candidate must be capable of swimming 50 yards in 35 seconds with proper form; have a minimum of 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other, without corrective lenses; and must be at least 16 years old by the time they start working as lifeguards.

To continue the trend started last year, the Parks Department will open nine testing centers throughout the city, in addition to the main facility, located at West 59 Street in Manhattan.

The only new aspect to the program this year, is that first-year lifeguards, upon completion of the training program, can expect to earn $12.55 per hour an increase from last year's $11.72 per hour. Those who pass the qualifying test will begin the training course soon thereafter, to be ready to take over their lifeguarding duties by the beginning of summer.

Many locals, however, say that, while it may seem as if the agency is doing a great job in recruiting and running the qualification process at several different sites, that they are still upset with the lack of proper management associated with the lifeguard training and hiring process.

That anger surfaced over the past two years, manifested most clearly in the City Council oversight hearing last month addressing the program and its shortcomings, where numerous local activists turned out to protest the lifeguard training and hiring process.

The past two years have been contentious, with Community Board 14 and a lifeguard lieutenant charging that there is bias against Rockaway residents in the process and that the testing process is not transparent and allows for cronyism and bias.

The training program consists of 40 hours of instruction in swimming and rescue techniques, first aid, and most importantly, CPR. The training class, according to the Department of Parks, is typically held once a week for 16 weeks with each session lasting 2.5 hours. Before candidates are officially enrolled in the program they are required to pass another swim test and a written exam that covers everything they have learned in the training sessions.

The tryouts are free of charge, and will be held every Monday through Friday starting January 7, and running through the first week of April. There will be two sessions each day at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., with no appointment necessary.

For more Information about tryout opportunities visit NYC.Gov/Parks.

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