Lifeguarding: worth the mental, physical challenge

Sports Opinion by KorinaLiekhus

While searching for a summer job, consider being a lifeguard. If you work at an outdoor pool, the job could be a little tougher. Lifeguarding as an indoor lifeguard is a little easier on the heat aspect, but the same, nonetheless.

It takes a lot to be a lifeguard. You have to be able to swim 300 yards, tread water without your hands for two minutes, and dive down to get a 10-pound rubber brick from the bottom of the pool. Not only this, but there is also a required three day class, which is eight hours long each day. Not all lifeguard classes are the same, some classes have you learn the material online and just practice saves for a short time for about two days. Most places do not pay you to take the class until you are working for them for sure. The recertification process is different everywhere you go, my job does it every two years at a monthly inservice where the lifeguards get together and practice their saves. 

During this class, you learn all the moves that are required to save lives,  and how to be ready for the worst situations. In addition, you are taught CPR and first aid.  

Being a lifeguard is a mentally tough job. You are in charge of not just yourself, but everyone in the pool. Making the decision on what to do can’t take more than a couple of seconds, especially if you work in a one-guard facility. 

Being the only lifeguard on duty and having to get in the water to help someone means you need to get everyone else out of the water. At the moment, this can be hard. In the facility I work in, you have to hit an alarm to get extra people on the deck before you get in the water. 

Since working as a lifeguard at the Maple Street YMCA, I have had the opportunity to save two lives. The first time was when a group of boys in the water were playing around and one got a little too far where he couldn’t reach the ground. As I blew my whistle and jumped in, another guard grabbed a tube and watched the water. I swam to the kid and helped him get to the closest wall to get out of the water.

The second time, I was teaching swim lessons. I was using new equipment, called a tot-dock, that allowed me to have preschool classes in the water more. The students started to jump around on the tot-dock and it tipped over. I had all four of my students in my arms by the time the lifeguard had even noticed anything had happened.   

Senior Christina Kleinsmith had a wonderful save. While she was off duty there was a group of little girls that started to go off of the diving board. There was one little girl that jumped in and couldn’t come back up. She wasn’t able to get enough air. Kleinsmith ran across the pool deck, jumped in without a floatation device and saved the little girl. 

Keeping an eye on the water is the most important part of preventing a situation going from bad to worse. Although lifeguarding can be stressful, it can also be rewarding.

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