HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – This summer many people in the valley are wanting to get out of the heat by taking a dip in the pool. But for those planning to head to a public pool in Harlingen, there will be a change.
“It has been a little bit difficult you know having to schedule as many lifeguards as I can to watch the waters and keep the people safe that is my main concern,” said Aquatics Director Crystal Cantu.
Right now the City of Harlingen is experiencing a lifeguard shortage that has only allowed one of its three pools to be open this summer. There are only 12 lifeguards on staff for the entire city which is one-third of what it usually has.
With more than 100 people coming to swim at Pendleton Pool every day, Cantu told ValleyCentral that this shortage has been a challenge.
“We want to make sure that we are giving our life guards enough time to work and enough time to rest because it is very important especially having to work in the aquatics field,” Cantu said. “It is very important to get rest as lifeguards.”
Harlingen is not the only city dealing with this problem. There is currently a lifeguard shortage across the country.
Parks and Recreation Director Javier Mendez told ValleyCentral that the city is finding ways to fill the gaps.
“We have reached out to all of the schools, the gyms, the community center, the library, we have put notices everywhere to try to invite people to apply for these positions,” Mendez said.
On top of the pandemic, Mendez says there is another reason why it has been difficult to get more lifeguards on staff.
The salary is one of the issues that we have had in handling the candidates,” Mendez said. ” Our City Manager has instructed us to look at a plan to be able to increase the salaries for the part-time lifeguards.”
While the lifeguard shortage has not stopped the fun in the pool, Harlingen is hoping to get more on staff soon and is willing to help anyone along the way.
“If you are nervous about swimming, I am here to help you, I am here to help you in any way that I can to get confident and to get you ready to get in that water,” Cantu said.
The City of Harlingen also assists applicants in becoming certified. For more information on how to apply click here.