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US Pools Closing Amid Nationwide Lifeguard Shortage 

According to reports, a nationwide shortage of lifeguards in the US is forcing local pools to close for the summer. 

Major cities throughout New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and many others are announcing reduced hours of operations for public pools, or just shutting down entirely due to the shortage of lifeguards. 

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Experts are estimating that a third of the pools in the US will be affected by overall staff shortages. The American Lifeguard Association estimated that by September half of the pools in the US will be impacted by these shortages. 

“The shortage is real, it’s a crisis.” said Bernard Fisher, the director of health and safety at the American Lifeguard Association. 

According to the New Orleans Advocate, city officials in New Orleans said that the municipal government would only open five of its 15 pools, and may be able to open up three more if the city can recruit more lifeguards. 

Chicago typically opens up their pools to the public on June 24th, but missed the deadline this year due to a lack of lifeguards and staff overall. City officials are reassigning lifeguards from local beaches to hopefully open up more pools as the summer progresses. 

New York currently has half the number of available lifeguards when compared to pre-pandemic levels. The state announced last week that they would be increasing the starting pay for lifeguards and developing a training program to staff more of the city’s pools. 

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Experts have stated that they’ve feared a lifeguard shortage for years prior to this summer, but the Covid-19 pandemic and an unstable labor market has made those fears a difficult reality. 

YMCA water safety expert Lindsay Mondick said a “lack of available US student visas has worsened the shortage, because many lifeguards in the country are foreign students. The slow release of more visas is having only a limited effect on the staffing shortages.”

 “We have been concerned about this potential lifeguard shortage for a number of years now. But I would say that Covid and the current tight labor market has really exacerbated this issue.”

Fisher said “simply increasing wages may not solve staffing issues because not enough people are training to be lifeguards.” 

“If cities cannot find ways to recruit more trained lifeguards and open up local pools, people may seek out unmonitored and possibly more dangerous swimming options in order to taste relief from the summer heat,” Fisher stated. 

“It’s such a crisis that if we don’t start resolving it this year, it’s going to be even worse next year, which I just can’t imagine,” Fisher said.

Professional Swimmer

Singer Cody Simpson’s Unexpected Bid To Compete In The 2021 Tokyo Olympics 

Cody Simpson is gearing up to compete at next month’s national championships for swimming in his home country of Australia. The singer will be going up against the nation’s top swimmers before June’s Olympic trials. 

The international singer has always been a competitive swimmer, however, his career as a teen pop icon obviously distracted from that fact. Simpson claims that Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe are among his biggest mentors. His 6.9 million Twitter followers and 3.9 million Instagram followers only recently discovered that one of their favorite performers was also a junior Queensland state champion for swimming. 

According to sources close to Simpson, he began competitively swimming again around five months ago, and has been training non stop in the United States with former Australian Olympian Brett Hawke, who also posted daily updates of Simpson’s progress to his Instagram. 

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Simpson went public with his re-entry into the competitive swimming world back in December, when he revealed to fans his 100 meter butterfly time of 54.7 seconds. That time is below the 56.87 second qualifying mark for the Olympic trials and would have been the 11th fastest time if Simpson competed at the 2019 Australian championships. 

“I just qualified for my first Olympic trials. I’d love to share this personal milestone and let you in on my current journey as an athlete that I’ve kept relatively low key until now. Growing up competing, and then inevitably having to cut my career short as 13-year-old Australian champion when I received an opportunity in music that I couldn’t refuse,”  Simpson wrote on Instagram in December.

Simpson continued to discuss how after years of “touring around the world, releasing albums, performing as a leading man on Broadway, publishing a work of poetry, travelling with and speaking at the United Nations on environmental and oceanic matters, I was fuelled by the silent fire in my stomach to return to swimming.”

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Hawke also recently spoke with the media regarding Simpson’s return, claiming that they “kept it under wraps” for a while so he wouldn’t feel any additional pressure from his millions of fans to succeed. 

“We could’ve said something a little bit earlier but we just didn’t have any swim meets because of Covid … when a swim meet popped up on the radar we thought, ‘let’s go down and have a splash and get off the blocks for the first time … ’ and first swim he gets a qualification for the Olympic trials. It kind of took us all by surprise,” Hawke claimed. 

Hawke then went on to discuss how this is just the beginning for Simpson’s swimming career: “Our goal is to be as fast as we can possibly be this year and just keep building on that. He’s looking at this as a four-year plan, he’s committed to four years. He had a conversation with Michael Phelps, and Michael told him, ‘you can’t do anything in under four years, you’ve got to commit to that’ … so he’s looking at from the age of about 23-27 here, and that’s prime for anybody. I think that’s the best chance he’ll have, to try and make an Olympic team four years from now.”

Ocean Water

60-Year Old Grandfather Reflects On Being The Oldest Swimmer To Complete ‘Oceans Seven’ Challenge

Antonio Argüelles made headlines in 2017 when he swam 21 miles through the North Ireland Channel all the way to Scotland.

Professional Swimmer

Olympic Gold Medalist, Sun Yang, Facing 8 Year Ban For Doping Violation

Sun Yang, a triple Olympic swimming champion, has been officially banned from the sport for eight years following his absence at an out-of-competition doping test, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The test was meant to take place in September 2018, and although FINA, the International Swimming Federation, did attempt to clear Sun for his misconduct, both CAS and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to make an appeal against FINA’s choice and ban the swimmer instead. 

Sun is 28-years-old and throughout his career he was often referred to as one of China’s top athletes, as he won two Olympic gold medals at the 2012 London Games and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. Now, he’s facing a ban that’s duration is just as long as his career so far. An eight year ban is the maximum sentence that CAS can give out, and the decision between CAS and WADA came relatively easy considering the fact that this isn’t Sun’s first time being banned for doping; in 2014 he served a year-long ban for the same reason. 

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WADA claimed to be very “satisfied that justice in this case has been rendered,” as many are viewing this as a “long time coming.” Just last year, Sun won a gold medal at the 2019 World Aquatic Championships in South Korea for the 200 meter freestyle. When it was time to step up to the podium, British swimmer Duncan Scott, who also placed in the same event, refused to shake hands or pose next to Sun; this also occurred just days after Australian swimmer Mack Horton did the same thing in response to Sun winning another swimming event. Both athletes knew of Sun’s past with doping and his more recent refusal to take WADA’s required doping tests.  Horton’s even gone as far as to call Sun a “drug cheat” in response to his success before the ruling. 

“I fully respect and support the decision that has been made and announced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport this morning. I believe in clean sport and a level playing field for all athletes and I trust in CAS and WADA to uphold these values,” Scott said after the ruling. 

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Altercation between Sun and Scott after the 200m freestyle

Other professional swimmers also were quite public with their satisfaction regarding the ruling, as they feel when individuals who use drugs to advance their own careers, it poses as a major disadvantage for all other athletes who are actually working hard to get to the Olympic stage. 

“I feel like it’s not only about me. It’s about James Guy who finished fourth in that race [2016 Rio De Janeiro event where Sun placed gold], whoever came ninth and whoever came 17th missed out on Olympic finals and semifinals. It’s a snowball effect. At the end of the day, you’re killing generations of swimmers by not punishing these drug cheats because for example, if Guy had got bronze and on the podium, it could have changed his life,” Olympic champion Chad le Clos said.

According to Chinese news agencies, Sun said he will be appealing the CAS ruling claiming it to be unfair while maintaining his innocence. The Chinese Swimming Association also is standing behind Sun to “continue to safeguard his legitimate rights through legal means.” The swimming association made a statement in which they claim that the September 2018 doping test, that Sun refused to partake in, was due to the testing being done by “untrained and unqualified personnel” and the accusations against him are  “illegal and invalid.”

They claim that WADA must specify their anti-doping rules and stop ignoring the rights of athletes to professional doping personnel who will have access to these intimate vitals. However, WADA stands behind their decision and is fine with taking the matter back to court. 

Marathon runners

The Science Behind a Runner’s High

There are certainly aspects of physical exercise that many of us dread. Nearly everyone can sympathize with the impulse to instead lie down, watch TV, and eat junk food when faced with the prospect of getting our hearts pumping and body moving. The threat of injury is an ongoing concern, particularly for beginners or for those working with heavy weights, and the process of building muscle is tiresome and leads to soreness and pain. But despite these difficulties, the scientific consensus concerning the health benefits of regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits, is clear. Not only does exercise contribute to an improved mood and overall sense of well-being, but prolonged, intense cardiovascular activity can generate a burst of euphoria and optimism known colloquially as a “runner’s high.” Many long-distance runners find this experience to be so joyful as to become somewhat addictive; unlike most other addictions, however, chasing a runner’s high is generally understood to be a practice which has the side effect of improving other aspects of life as well.

While not everybody who runs reports experiencing a high from going a long distance, this phenomenon is frequent among runners who are particularly serious about committing themselves to the hobby. People who have have had a runner’s high describe experiencing an almost-magical sensation whereby all of their ordinary worries and even the physical stress of running seem to melt away, replaced by an overwhelming sensation of joy and accomplishment, with positive after-effects that can last throughout the day. Many runners who get high during their workout report feeling more energized, motivated, and focused in their ordinary lives afterwards, contradicting the popular belief that exercise leaves one feeling listless and exhausted.

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To better understand how this effect emerges, it’s a good idea to take a look at the medical literature that has emerged concerning the subject. For several decades, understanding of the physical and chemical phenomena occurring in the brain during a runner’s high was only speculative, and there existed controversy over whether the effect was actually a myth or placebo. For a long time, it was thought that the runner’s high was a consequence of elevated endorphins in the circulatory system, but in studies where the effects of endorphins were blocked chemically, runners still reported the sensation in question. Other theories that attempt to explain the effect suggest that the hormones norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine play a contributing role, or that an increase in body temperature triggers a change in mood. 

A groundbreaking 2015 study, however, presents evidence of a new theory that claims the effect of a runner’s high is in fact actually related to the brain’s endocannabinoid system, the same system that interacts with marijuana to produce the similar feelings of euphoria related to usage of the drug. The researchers theorize that, from an evolutionary point of view, the body releases a natural drug during sustained exercise to take the edge off of the pain of physical activity when chasing prey or escaping predators, both of which were necessary for survival during the vast majority of the species’ evolutionary history. Though the study in question used rodents as test subjects, the research likely explains the effect in humans as well, as all mammals share generally similar biological systems.

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Scientists who study the runner’s high effect say that the keys to experiencing the phenomenon lie in experience and balance. As people generally experience a runner’s high after more than an hour into their run, it can take a while for a beginner to build up his or her endurance before being able to run for this length. Additionally, runners need to run fast enough to trigger the response in their endocannabinoid system, but not so fast that the brain’s self-preservation mechanisms trigger, which results in reduced blood flow and stimulation. This balance is called steady-state cardio, and occurs when the heart rate is elevated to the general range of 135-140 beats per minute.

Despite the name, however, a runner’s high can be experienced during any form of extended cardiovascular activity, which is good news for anyone looking to become proficient in swimming, bicycling, or any other form of fitness. As such, it perhaps may be more fitting to instead call the effect a “fitness high.” In any case, while the process of becoming sufficiently fit to experience this high can be grueling, setting a goal to do so can be an excellent motivational tool for those looking to incorporate a greater degree of healthfulness into their lives.