PR: Whistle Worthy

Contact: Warner Johnston / Jesslyn Tiao (Parks) (212) 360-1311
Kimberly Spell / Ernesto Freire (NYC & Company) (212) 484-1295


The City's Marketing and Tourism Organization Joins Parks in Giving Program New Look, Expanded Reach

New York, NY (February 21, 2007) – Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and CEO of NYC & Company George Fertitta today joined Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to kick off the City’s revamped 2007 lifeguard recruitment campaign: “Whistle Worthy.” Each year, Parks recruits and trains more than 1,000 summer lifeguards for New York City’s 53 outdoor pools and 14 miles of beaches, including the world-famous Coney Island. This year, NYC & Company will work directly with the Parks & Recreation Department to grow the program’s scope and raise participation numbers.

"The best way to beat a hot summer in New York City is with a cool lifeguard job," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Water safety depends on great lifeguards, and while it’s cold out now, summer will be here before we know it. Municipal lifeguard jobs now pay at least $11.72 an hour to start for a 48-hour week, and I strongly encourage anyone interested in working as a lifeguard this summer to take the first step and take a free swim qualifying test. New York City’s lifeguards are whistle worthy, and you may be, too!"

NYC & Company recently merged with NYC Marketing and NYC Big Events to form the world's leading municipal tourism, marketing, and events organization charged with meeting Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s goal of attracting 50 million visitors annually by the year 2015. With that goal in mind, NYC & Company has designed an advertising campaign that reaches out to international lifeguard candidates as well as those in the New York City area.

“Parks has done a wonderful job with recruitment over the years. It is because of their hard work that NYC & Company can now help turn Whistle Worthy into a campaign that resonates outside New York City as well,” said George Fertitta, CEO of NYC & Company. “We’re going to involve more countries, which will bring in more recruits—and also more visitors. The message will be clear: You can come here in the summer, go swimming at our beaches, and experience the City in a whole new way.”

The marketing campaign will feature “Whistle Worthy” media, including the signs already in place today on New York City buses and bus shelters. NYC & Company will leverage the City’s international presence to communicate that lifeguarding in NYC is a wonderful way to spend your summer vacation. The City’s tourism and marketing organization also sees it as an opportunity to publicize the fact that New York City has 14 miles of beaches.

To further help recruitment in the City, Parks has placed eight, 14-foot-tall, full-size lifeguard chairs in selected parks across the five boroughs, including: Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx; Columbus Park and Coney Island (at the Stillwell Avenue subway station) in Brooklyn; Union Square Park and Mitchel Square (168th street between Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue) in Manhattan; Hoffman Park and Corporal Ruoff Square (near the Rockaway Boulevard subway station) in Queens. A lifeguard chair will also be unveiled in the upcoming weeks at St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island.

Lifeguard beach chairs were manned by “whistle worthy” helpers from Parks and Metro who promoted lifeguard recruitment throughout the day. This is the second year in a row Parks has partnered with Metro, a free daily newspaper in New York City, which has provided generous advertising support.

“In Brooklyn, where not everyone goes to the Hamptons and residents like me are proud to summer in Brooklyn, keeping our beaches open as a way to cool off is essential,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. “And with the 10 million annual visitors to Coney Island and Brighton Beach helping make Brooklyn one of the world’s hottest tourist destinations, we rely on lifeguards even more to keep our beaches safe, fun, and relaxing.”

The process to become a New York City lifeguard is simple. First, candidates are encouraged to take a free qualifying test. Parks has been hosting qualifying tests since November, and will continue to do so through Mid-April. As part of the qualifying test, successful candidates will:

  1. Be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds or less with proper form.
  2. Have at least 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other - without corrective lenses. Glasses and contact lenses are not permitted during the eye exam.
  3. Be at least 16 years of age by the start of employment.

Qualifying tests are held twice a day, Monday through Friday, at 4:30pm and 6:30pm at the Parks Lifeguard School at 533 West 59th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues). No appointment is necessary.

Candidates who pass the test may enroll in Parks’ free Municipal Lifeguard Training Program, which is the only certification accepted for employment as a New York City Lifeguard. The training program consists of 40 hours of instruction in swimming and rescue techniques, first aid, and CPR, and includes a final swim test and a written exam. Candidates who begin working as a lifeguard, will be paid for their time spent in training. First-year lifeguards will earn at least $11.72 an hour and work 48 hours (6 days) a week. If you become a lifeguard, you will be guaranteed a job for the summer at one of the City’s seven beaches or 53 outdoor pools.

Last summer, more than 22.2 million visitors flocked to New York City’s beaches and pools. This summer, beaches are scheduled to open on May 26, and pools are scheduled to open June 29; both will remain open through Labor Day. For more information on the City’s beaches and pools or how to become a lifeguard, call 311 or visit our web site at

# # #

About NYC & Company:
NYC & Company is the official marketing, tourism and partnership organization for the City of New York, dedicated to maximizing travel and tourism opportunities throughout the five boroughs, building economic prosperity and spreading the positive image of New York City worldwide.