For immediate release: Wednesday, February 1, 2023Contact: Maita Soukup, maita.soukup@phila.govImagesB-roll of lifeguard screening test


Philadelphia Parks & Recreation unveils new end-of-summer bonuses for City lifeguards

Philadelphians can show their support for public pools and lifeguards by taking part in the Philly Phreeze fundraiser at Kelly Pool on February 25


Philadelphia – Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner (PPR) Kathryn Ott Lovell today announced new steps the department will take to recruit the 400 lifeguards necessary to open the City’s 60+ outdoor pools this summer against the background of a national lifeguard shortage.

This year, Philadelphia will join other American cities in offering a monetary incentive to qualified candidates who spend their summer working as a lifeguard at a City pool.

A $1000 end-of-season bonus will be available to any City lifeguard who submits their completed employment application by April 15, 2023 and works throughout the summer season. Candidates who submit a completed application by May 15 will be eligible for a $500 end-of-summer bonus. The lifeguards bonuses are a first for Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

“Lifeguards are the foundation of a fun Philly summer,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “For two summers now, we have seen the impact the national lifeguard shortage has on our ability to open all the City’s beloved free public pools. That’s why we are doing whatever it takes to recruit and retain lifeguards to work at a Parks & Rec pool this summer.”

The Philly Phreeze

The 2023 lifeguard recruitment effort will be supported by the Philly Phreeze, a fundraising challenge presented by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with the Parks & Rec Heroes Fund. The Philly Phreeze pool plunge will dare 500 brave Philadelphians to jump into a frigid Kelly Pool on February 25 to raise funds for Philly pools.

All funds raised through the Philly Freeze will thank hard working Philly lifeguards for their commitment to the City’s free public pools and the communities that rely on them. Sponsors include Bank of America, the Parkway Corporation, the Fairmount Park Conservancy, and 5th Square.

Individuals can sign up for the Saturday, February 25 Philly Phreeze Challenge here.

Businesses and organizations can get involved by contacting or visiting the Philly Phreeze fundraising challenge.

“Philadelphians love their public pools, and the Philly Phreeze fundraiser is the perfect opportunity to share your passion for public pools while raising critical funds to support our lifeguards and help ALL pools open this year,” said Commissioner Ott Lovell. “We dare you to bear the cool of the freezing pool and show your support for Philly lifeguards!”

Lifeguard recruitment 2023

In addition to end-of-season bonuses, Parks & Rec will deploy new steps to support lifeguard training and recruitment in the face of a persistent worsening national lifeguard shortage. These efforts include:

  • A no-cost application for any candidate 24 or younger.
  • An expanded partnership with Friends Select School to offer evening and weekend lifeguard training at a Center City location.
  • Targeted outreach to high schools and colleges.
  • Attendance at job fairs and hiring events.
  • Red Cross certification classes are free for anyone ages 16-24 who commit to working at a City pool. The fee is $110 for all other candidates.

The City’s public pools open on a rolling basis in mid-to-late June and remain open for 7 weeks, with rolling closures from mid-to-late August. Interested applicants can begin training today. The lifeguard position pays a competitive wage of $16 to $18 an hour.

The first step for interested candidates is to brush up on swimming skills, and prepare for the lifeguard screening, which includes:

  • Swimming 300 meters nonstop.
  • Treading water for two minutes.
  • Retrieving a 10-lb brick from the bottom of the deep end.

The screening test is required for all new and returning lifeguards, and can be completed on a walk-in basis. Certified candidates who pass the screening test will be ready to complete the job application and go to work this summer. New lifeguards will be enrolled in a Red Cross certification course upon passing their screening exam.

Last year, PPR recruited 285 lifeguards, and was able to open 80% of the City’s available outdoor public pools. The department hopes to recruit 400 lifeguards this year to fully open all available outdoor pools.

Candidates can book their training or screening test at, or register interest by emailing