The first day of swimming started with a fast-moving thunderstorm but soon morphed into a warm, sunny day for bathers under the watchful eye of New York City lifeguards.
It was the first day on the job for lifeguards, the beaches were closed for swimming since Memorial Day as a result of COVID-19 social distancing and prohibitions.
The beaches at Coney Island were busy despite the midday rain, many arriving after the brief rainstorm hit the Big Apple. But most people were happy with the result, including the lifeguards who were grateful to be back on the watch.
“It was just a little rain – we’re used to that and now look at it, a beautiful day,” said one lifeguard sitting on his stand.
Many locals were on hand for swimming in the rough surf in Coney Island, enjoying the cool waters.
Mia Valle of the Bronx swam in the cool waters and was happy to see the lifeguards on duty.
“I love it,” Valle shouted as she waded in the waves. “I’m so happy that it’s open, this is my favorite place to be. I did go to Orchard Beach the other day – but I have to be in Coney Island.”
Pricilla and Rachel Lopez of Sunset Park were enjoying their swim for the first time this season.
“The water was great,” said Rachel, the younger of the two sisters. “I couldn’t wait to get here. I just want to swim like a fish.”
Michael Manos of Bay Ridge was with his family swimming and said they were waiting for this day.
“There is nothing like being in Coney Island for a good swim and the lifeguards are here to keep everyone safe,” he said. “We didn’t know if the weather would clear, but then, here we are. This is great.”
The beaches will be open through Labor Day and city pools are expected to open at the beginning of August if COVID-19 numbers stay low enough to justify. Officials still advise people to wear masks at the beach, though few were taking that advice.
“How can you wear a mask at the beach,” said Joseph Curio of Canarsie. “It’s just too hot and then, the mask gets wet and full of sand. We just try to give people room, you know, social distance.”