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Philadelphia Parks & Rec Warns Some City Pools Won't Open This Summer If Lifeguard Shortage Isn't Addressed

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Philadelphia's Park and Recreation department is looking for lifeguards. It says if it doesn't recruit enough within the next few weeks, some city pools won't open.

"We need to come out and just embrace our kids because they need something, just to give them something to do," lifeguard Robin Borlandoe said.

That something could be a day at the pool, but that won't happen if Philly's Parks and Rec doesn't hire more lifeguards.

The threat of pools not opening forced Borlandoe into action. At 70 years old, she's joining Philly's lifeguard staff.

"With the climate of the city and youth and what we need, we need to bring it back to the old days. The good old days," Borlandoe said. "We dodged dodgeballs, not bullets."

Borlandoe was also a lifeguard in Kingsessing back when she was 16.

Parks and Rec says they need more civic-minded people like her.

"The window is closing for us in terms of timing to be able to open all those pools for the summer," Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell said.

Parks and Rec operates 65 pools. They're supposed to open on a rolling basis on June 21.

Lifeguards have to be at least 16 years old. They earn between $16 and $18 and they offer on the job training

"This is like an incredible summer job so we're really appealing to candidates and their moms and grandmoms," Ott Lovell said.

As rewarding as the job can be, you can't just show up and be a lifeguard. You first have to qualify.

"The first test you're going to do is swim 12 laps," water safety instructor Thelma Nesbitt said. "You have to demonstrate freestyle and breaststroke

The swimming portion of the lifeguard test includes performing the freestyle going and the breaststroke back. Then tread water for two minutes with your head over the water, and then retrieve a brick from the bottom of the pool to simulate saving a person.

"I would say just try it. They do give you a lot of opportunity and teaching opportunities to pass the test, so it's a great opportunity," Borlandoe said.

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