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Asia Minute: Hong Kong: Experienced Lifeguards Wanted


Summer months are the busiest time of the year for lifeguards—in Hawai‘i and across the country. Summer vacation and hot weather pack beaches and pools in many locations. But in one Asian city, the crowds of summer are bringing trouble when it comes to lifeguards. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

Hong Kong doesn’t have enough life guards….especially experienced ones.  The number of swimming pools in the city has exploded in recent years.  One reason: they’re extremely popular with visitors from China.  More than 45 million mainland Chinese came to Hong Kong last year.

Summer is the peak season for potential pool-partying participants.  But alarms have been raised about the varying quality of lifeguards.  This week, the Hong Kong and Kowloon Lifeguards’ Union said some guards don’t have enough experience.

Twice last week, children had to be rescued by people other than lifeguards at a swim club in Hong Kong’s neighborhood of Discovery Bay….despite the fact that there were lifeguards on duty.  The government requires all lifeguards to be certified by the Hong Kong Life Saving Society…but experience varies widely.

The steady stream of Chinese tourists has increased demand for local lifeguards.  One of the reasons Hong Kong’s swimming pools are so popular with Chinese tourists: chemicals.  Public pools in mainland China are heavily chlorinated---at two to three times the level the International Swimming Federation calls “standard.”  According to the Hangzhou Weekly, that’s because pools in China are always extremely crowded.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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