How to make money swimming



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A NYSC employee stays vigilant.

A NYSC employee stays vigilant. Photograph: Jason Rodgers


Pruny pool fingers are a treat, not a career, right? Wrong. The 92nd Street Y (1395 Lexington Ave at 92nd St, 212-415-5500, hires lifeguards and instructors in the summer, and is looking for water cops with two years of experience. At one New York Sports Club (614 Second Ave at 34th St, 212-213-5999,, there are ten full- and part-time lifeguards on staff, and pool manager Ray Torres even hires fully certified rookies as young as 15 to make around $10 per hour, looking for "someone who knows how to communicate with the public, makes them feel safe."

To get your accreditation in order, try lifeguard courses at the Y starting June 6, though they’ll cost as much as $410. You need less paperwork if you opt to teach swimming privately—the clients of instructor Scott Jordan (860-306-8576, rarely ask him to prove his certification, though the Fordham education graduate student and Olympic-trials qualifier has Red Cross and CPR cred aplenty. "I can schedule my own hours. I swam in college, been doing it all my life. I enjoy it," says Jordan, whose rates start at $75 per hour. His side business is booming, despite the economic slowdown: "My coach [says] swimming is a recession-proof job. When times are tough, people want to orient themselves to a specific goal."


New York City has 54 public park swimming spots, from wading-size on up, but newbies shouldn’t expect to be sunning by the Hamilton Fish Park Olympic pool for a paycheck this summer ( The qualifying exam to become a lifeguard at NYC parks has passed, though if you’ve already worn a whistle for the city, you have until July to retake your final exams and reclaim your post, where pay starts at $13.57 per hour. If you do offer private instruction, securing space in a public pool isn’t easy or encouraged by the city. "That sort of thing would only be possible in a free-swim setting," says Meghan Lalor, press officer with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. "Our pools get pretty crowded." And if you do secure a coveted lifeguarding or teaching spot in the water, you might find yourself getting a little seasick of sorts. "Water is my life, I love it," says Ray Torres of NYSC, but "when I go on vacation, I don’t want to see pools."—Kyle McGovern and Allison Williams

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