Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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March 27, 2014

Ready to man PV’s pools

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Help appears to have arrived for Pauls Valley’s aquatics program as a former local student has been named its new director.

Just in the nick of time as Robert Rennie III started this week with his main focus fixed on getting PV’s brand new water park ready for its first full swim season ever.

Rennie is very familiar with Pauls Valley having spent part of his childhood here. He is also a 1990 graduate of PV High School.

“I’ll be concentrating on how things are operating right now and looking for things I can do to help make it better,” Rennie said about the aquatics program as he sat in his new office at the indoor Bosa pool facility.

Although there are programs at the Bosa he hopes to improve someday, it’s the water park that has Rennie’s full attention as he steps in to replace Billy Tomlinson as the aquatics supervisor.

Rennie knows time is short as the push is now on to get enough trained lifeguards before the park’s opening during the Memorial Day weekend in late May.

“It will be a daunting task, no doubt about that,” he said.

“We’re going to need 40 to 50 lifeguards. That’s a big number and right now we might have 10.

“Obviously I am going to hit up the high school and start getting kids into classes.”

The first step will be to recruit candidates for the mostly summer lifeguard jobs.

Then it’s Rennie and Jennifer Samford, local parks and recreation director, who are the ones qualified to teach lifeguard certification classes, which might be needed even on weekends.

Rennie’s own path to the pool didn’t come early on as his history degree from the University of Oklahoma led to his work teaching conversational English in South Korea.

“Then I dabbled in a lot of things in the recreational industry.”

That included working as a scuba instructor before he latched onto a ski patrol job with a focus on mountain safety in Angel Fire, N.M.

“I was ski patrolling in the winter and thought lifeguarding would be good for me in the summer,” Rennie added.

“They did fit together just in different settings.”

He spent a few years alternating the jobs, depending on the seasons, before then turning his attention to the pool when he took a job at the YMCA in Norman.

“Off and on I’ve been a lifeguard for about 15 years.”

Rennie worked at the YMCA as a lifeguard, along with summer and sports programs. He then oversaw the youth program before serving as the aquatics director for a few years.

“The YMCA is a big national organization that has a wealth of knowledge, especially in aquatic safety,” Rennie said. “They were one of the first to start training lifeguards.

“There are some things, really most of what I learned there will definitely be beneficial to the city here.”

Later on another priority will be a look at ways to improve the programs offered at the Bosa pool, especially the swim lessons.

“Right now they’re only teaching swim lessons in the summer time,” he said.

“If not year round, I would like to see those lessons offered for at least a good portion of the year.”

There might even be a collaboration on the way with the local schools in an effort to teach even more kids the proper way to swim.

“Teaching kids how to swim is the most critical thing we can do here. That’s why I want to increase the amount of swim lessons we’re doing here.”

Also sure to get a look is the possibility of expanding the water fitness classes offered at the Bosa.

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