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’70 Is the New — What?’: 70-Year-Old Grandmother Comes Out of Retirement to Help with Lifeguard Shortage In Philadelphia

Nearly 55 years after retiring, a Philadelphia grandmother put back on her swimming gear and returned to her post as a lifeguard amid a national shortage.

Robin Borlandoe said she was a lifeguard when she was 16 years old and is returning to the waterside now “to do something for our kids, our community.”

70 Is the New ? What?': 70-Year-Old Grandmother Comes Out of Retirement to Help with Lifeguard Shortage In Philadelphia
Robin Borlandoe, 70, came out of retirement and to help ease Philadelphia’s lifeguard shortage. (Photo: YouTube/NBC 10)

“What do they call you? Lifeguard Granny,” Borlandoe described herself to Fox News.

The nationwide shortage is affecting about a third of the country’s public pools, according to American Lifeguard Association. Many pools are closing and are limiting their hours. Reports show 15 of Philadelphia’s public pools are closed because of the shortage.

“We were scrambling to onboard staff,” said Philadelphia Parks and Recreation spokesperson Maita Soukop said to the network.

The American Lifeguard Association officials said lifeguard certifications were canceled during the onset of the pandemic, so many lifeguards were unable to get approval to work. As a result, they looked elsewhere for employment and didn’t return.

Borlandoe did not qualify for certification after her first attempt, but she retook the lifeguard test and passed the second time. She hopes her presence at a pool will give children a safe space in the summer amid a rise in gun violence.

“They have no place to go. The pools are closed all around,” she said to a local NBC affiliate.

Violent crime in Philadelphia is up 7 percent from last year, according to reports.

“I’m very much committed to this,” Borlandoe added. “This is my reputation. This is my community.”

The grandmother of six and mother of three spent several years in the health field before serving as a caregiver for sick relatives long after working as a lifeguard in the late 1960s. She is still proud of saving a 7-year-old from drowning as a teen-aged lifeguard.

The “Lifeguard Granny” promises to be back guarding pools again next summer.

“70 is the new — what? — 50, 30, 40,” Borlandoe said.

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