On our regular trips to the fine beaches of New York Gothamist has noticed that an awful lot of those fine beaches are often closed, even when lots of people seem interested in taking a dip. The reason for those closings, it turns out, has nothing to do with water pollution (unfortunately one of our first thoughts) and everything to do with the lifeguards. Despite beaches like Coney Island attracting over 9 million visitors a year the city still has problems filling those lifeguard chairs with properly trained personnel. Guarding a pool deck just isn't the same as guarding over rough surf. To make matters worse this summer's heat makes the beaches even more crowded then usual which makes the shortage more apparent.
Efforts are apparently underway to get more guards (old guards are being called, and some are getting out of summer school). In the meantime the Parks Department aims to have 75% of local beach front open on weekdays and 90% open on weekends. Gothamist certainly hopes they meet their goals.
Photograph by Michelle V. Agins for the New York Times