By Amberly DuMond
If I had to describe lifeguarding, I’d go with WALK, and a 30:2 ratio. Although there is a lot of sitting, standing, and walking, it has a lot more that goes into it than just people watching. I thought it would be interesting to see more into what it takes!
The biggest part of GETTING this job is a long training course. This could take three days or a whole week. It includes a pre-test, several written, actual classroom time, and a in water course.
These aren’t hard if you have patience. ( a MUST for guarding.) and some level of experience with swim strokes such as Freestyle, back, side and breast stroke. The hardest part, is the most tedious, which is the classroom time. This consists of a lot of videos, and hands on experiences prior to the final test.
Once you learn all the basic life support skills; CPR, AED, and Oxygen, you will take a basic lifeguarding test, which is typically a test for the facility you are guarding for and their personal requirements of their pool. You will be put on deck where most times a more experienced lifeguard will show you the ropes. Sometimes, this includes areas that are off limits, what toys are used for classes or aren’t open to all swimmers due to their own specific use. Sometimes there are basic opening and closing routines you will need to learn as well. ( An example would be chemical checking.)
While maintaining this job, it’s important to stay in shape. You do a lot of movement, and need to work quick when having a victim. I personally highly recommended spending time in the pool or finding a source of cardio to help you with this. Although, In-services help lifeguards maintain and retain a physically level of activity as well as the knowledge presented in the requirements. Most in services start with swimming a 300 (12 laps) and treading water, followed by a meeting of what needs improved or payed more attention to in the pool. The rest of the time given is always used to practice your rescues and Basic Life Support. Although you always want to prevent swimmers from needed either skill, it’s always important to stay up to date on what your plan is in case of an emergency.
Your guard tea becomes your family. Most times they always have your back whether it’s to cover a shift or the most crucial.. bathroom breaks! You learn a lot about them, as well as from them. When it comes to your rescues, there is never a time you can’t improve them or learn a more proficient way of performing them. It’s important when they are talking or showing their skills, you watch and listen. They put a lot of hours in with you. (Especially inservices and large events.) So eventually, you’ll catch onto laughing at their jokes even if they aren’t funny.
The most rewarding part of the job isn’t the skills you possess or the title of the job. It’s the people you meet, and watch smile on a day to day bases. It’s a workplace that you don’t have to dread going too, because everyday could be different. It’s an extremely rewarding job all on it’s own because you never know whose life will be saved because of you, you have so many to care and watch over.