As the summer season approaches, Plano is facing a shortage of lifeguards that could cause officials to limit hours at some of the city’s public pools.

Plano Recreation Services Manager Susie Hergenrader said the city has around 120 openings for lifeguards at its nine pools.

“Our goal is to be fully open and operational all summer long, and we're working hard to make that happen,” Hergenrader said.

The city also saw a shortage of lifeguards last year that limited hours at the Jack Carter Pool and Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center pools, and closed the Liberty Recreation Center pool except for weekends, Hergenrader said.

“We'd like to keep our most popular pools open fully [this year],” Hergenrader said. “[But] we might reduce hours at those that are not as popular. We might close different features [or] have a rotation where different features of a pool are closed down for a while or certain bodies of water.”

The city may also eliminate pool rentals after regular operating hours because of the limited number of lifeguards available, she said.

“Those [rentals] are very, very popular during the summer,” Hergenrader said. “Unfortunately, that's the first thing that will go.”

With Plano’s new outdoor family aquatic facility at Oak Point Recreation Center slated to open this summer and hours for all the city’s pools expected to be announced in mid-May, Hergenrader is encouraging those interested in a lifeguard position to apply online.

“We want someone who is responsible and is a strong swimmer,” she said of potential candidates. “We will train them [to be a lifeguard] to the fullest extent, so they don't need to come with any experience whatsoever.”

The certification process to become a lifeguard takes 30-32 hours, Hergenrader said. However, the city has increased the pay for lifeguard positions to start at $13.51 per hour, and she said Plano has absorbed all costs associated with applying and training for the role.

"No longer do applicants have to pay for their certification or training or their uniform—we cover all those costs," she said. "Hopefully, those efforts will help us recruit who we need to recruit and stay open."

Hergenrader said a lifeguard job could lead to full-time and even permanent employment with Plano, as several full-time employees started in that role.

“I can't emphasize enough what a great summer job it is,” she said. “We're like a family here. They really make a lot of friends and they do things after work together. They work hard, but it's so rewarding. It's [also] fun and it really looks good on a resume to say that you worked for the city of Plano during the summer.”