CONEY ISLAND - City beaches officially opened Memorial Day weekend but many lifeguard towers remain empty.

Parks Commissioner Adriene Benepe says the shortage is temporary. ?It always starts a little bit slow. A lot of our lifeguards are still in school, or in college and are just getting home?So we really don?t max out with lifeguards until Independence Day weekend,? he said.

The city is hiring 1,100 lifeguards for the season.

Swimmers say they are inconvenienced by the shortage. They say they shouldn?t be forced to spend the beginning of the summer confined to one small area of beach.

Beachgoers say it only takes a few minutes for an accident or drowning to happen. They say if the Parks Department isn?t going to have a lifeguard in every chair, it needs to better patrol beaches to make sure people stay out of the water.

Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Parks Department says swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty and in closed sections of beaches.