The only things you have to worry about when being a lifeguard are sun bathing, and watching the water to make sure no one is drowning. Wrong, there is a little bit more to the job than that. Tons of pool maintenance and facility maintenance is involved along with meetings every Friday that include a bit of skill practice and a whole lot of swimming. You’d think that one wouldn’t mind the water with this job but I hate getting wet, so swimming is my least favorite part of this profession. Before we start swimming, the lane lines have to be changed from fifty meters to twenty-five meters. They are also known as long course and short course. After that, everyone gets together for a brief meeting to talk about any updates at the different pool facilities. Then, once the lane lines are situated and the meeting is out of the way, the swimming portion begins. Everyone is expected to do a timed, three-hundred-meter swim with no breaks. Then another form of water exercise is to be completed such as treading for five minutes straight. It doesn’t sound like a long time but when you’re the one treading it feels like a lifetime. The next part is reviewing CPR, then practicing rescues with each other and CPR on a dummy. Last but not least, deep cleaning the entire facility. Although it sounds ridiculous there was a time that even the pool deck was moped; Not a fun time.
Being a summer guard, or seasonal guard, is equal to being a grunt. This position is the lowest of the low when it comes to life guarding because the only things involved are custodial work, and guarding the patrons in the pool and on the pool deck. Usually one starts off as a seasonal guard and works their way up to a leader one, then a leader two, and so on until they stay long enough to maybe become a site supervisor or higher. Sometimes, it can take more than one or two summers to become a leader one. Luckily, it only took me one season. Along with custodial work and guarding, seasonal guards also get audited. In an audit a number of things can be portrayed as a “victim”: A red ball, a silhouette, a shadow dummy, a “Timmy” doll, and even one of the higher ups can jump in and play dead. Whatever or whomever the victim is has to be recognized and pulled out of the water in thirty seconds or less, then one would begin the steps in saving the victim’s life. The audits are put in place to practice for a real situation in case anything was to happen. Me, myself was never audited as a summer guard but I was always on my toes and ready for action.
I heard about the lifeguard job I have now, through a friend of mine. She told me it was a seasonal job over at bobby hicks pool, which was right across the street from my high school, that payed ten dollars an hour and to a teenager that sounded amazing. She then gave me some background information on CPR and what it’s like to work at the pool and helped me with the application. Before I was able to start I had to take physical tests in the water that I had practiced doing many days prior and become certified in CPR, life-guarding skills, and a number of other things. The certification part was easy. All I had to do was pay attention and study, plus most of it was common sense. Doing the physical tests were tougher for me because I wasn’t the most fit at the time. There were four parts to the physical part, a three-hundred swim, the brick, treading, and rescues. The swim was to be done with rhythmic breathing and without switching from one way of swimming to another in the middle of the swim; for example, if I push off the wall and start swimming free-style then I can’t switch to breast stroke until I get to the other wall. The brick test involved a ten-pound brick that was dropped twenty-five meters away from you. The objective is to swim to the brick, dive down to pick it up, swim back to the wall on your back while keeping both hands on the brick, then getting yourself and the brick out of the water in under a minute and forty-five seconds. Treading was easy for me since I naturally float. For this part, you are to tread for three minutes without using your hands. I could’ve gone for five or ten minutes but then I’d just be showing off. The last one was the rescues, you were to go through a series of situations where your victim is active, passive or has some type of head, neck, or spinal injury. The active and passive victims are the easiest because less steps are involved but the head, neck, or spinal injury has a lot of steps to it since you have to be more careful. After I passed everything in the training, I was finally able to go through the hiring process. It took a month but was worth it because I am now a part of the permanent staff making eleven ninety-two an hour for sun bathing and minimal custodial work.