By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia children are hoping city pools will be open this summer, and there is a hopeful sign. The Parks and Recreation Department is resuming lifeguard training for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

The city says it’s one of the best-paying summer jobs around with pay starting at $15 per hour.

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It isn’t quite pool season just yet, but the push to hire hundreds of lifeguards is underway in Philadelphia.

“It’s pretty excited,” Willard Coleman, a training instructor with the Parks and Recreation Department Aquatics Division, said. “It’s been a while. It’s been a year since we trained anyone because of COVID. We want to get everything, get the ball back rolling again.”

Coleman will be using heated pools for training, working to make sure necessary skills are met.

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“You got to do about 300-meter swims,” Coleman said. “Freestyles and breaststroke.”

There are 72 pools in the City of Philadelphia each requiring lifeguards. The recruitment process is underway for kids at least 16 years old.

“We have to hire 400 people to be lifeguards at all 70 of our public pools this summer,” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott said, “so we are encouraging people to see this as a great summer job.”

Ott Lovell says pools can’t reopen in June without the necessary number of lifeguards. The recruitment process comes at a time when a constructive outlet for city youth is most important.

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“Not only do they provide that recreational outlet for young people,” she said, “a place to go, a place to cool off, a place to hang out with your friends, but we also offer free swimming lessons.”