Matt asked me to write a blog about how my life was consumed by lifeguarding for six years. He wanted me to get into the details about saving, and trainings, but I spared the boring details and wrote this for his blog instead.
My Guest Blog Post: Lifeguarding via Matt’s Blog
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It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life happens I guess. But to get me back in the swing of things, I asked the lovely Kendal Ann to write me a guest blog about her experience lifeguarding. I, myself, have never been a lifeguard (but I did get my Lifesaving merit badge in Boy Scouts), but Kendal Ann was talking about it one day and it really interested me. Check out Kendal Ann’s blog here and I promise you, she’s a hell of a lot better at updating her blog than I am.
In high school and college, I lived for summers. I spent my days stretched out in a chair, slathered in SPF 85 (yes, it’s a thing), occasionally jumping off the dock for a quick dip and always playing with kids.
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. For five years, lifeguarding consumed my life. As downfalls of the job, my ginger locks would turn bleach beach blond, and it would always have a slight green tint to it. And I often found myself involuntarily yelling “No running!” at random kids on my days off.
I trained hard at 15 to become a Baywatch wannabe. The Red Cross certifies lifeguards only after an intensive, 30-plus-hour course on CPR, first aid, AED and rescue skills with both a written and physical final exam. (I was through the Red Cross and the YMCA)
Sure as a lifeguard our first priority is safety, but there is so much more to the job than safety, getting awkward tan lines and working 15 hour shifts.
Let’s get back to the trainings. I was originally hired to lifeguard at the YMCA (an indoor pool). After working at the YMCA for a year and a half—I was stolen. My supervisor put in a good word for me at the beach and the next day I was hired. I will always be grateful of her “stealing” me. (Note, I still worked at both the YMCA and the beach—I wasn’t exactly stolen, I was more of a timeshare). Working at the YMCA, we often had a training to refresh our skills. These trainings happened once every quarter (about four times a year). During the trainings, we would go over skills, back boarding, CPR and how to administer Oxygen. More often than not, they ended with the staff gathered in the hot tub.
Working at the beach was a totally different story. Before the season started, we took three days to refresh our skills on back boarding, oxygen administration, AED and first aid. If that wasn’t enough, we had trainings every Thursday morning for two hours. It would begin with a few jokes and recognition, but beyond that, it was down and dirty—straight to business. We would swim to build our endurance (about a half a mile), and continue the meeting with saves and missing persons drills.
Yes, there are days it’s sunny and no one is at the pool or the beach so you get to work on your tan, read a book or go swimming for fun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a hard job. I had to go through a 30-plus-hour course and pay money to get certified. My certifications last a year, before I have to get recertified. The money is lifeguarding is good, but everyone doesn’t get hired. So, don’t tell me I am just sitting there looking pretty, and getting paid to tan. Sir, you aren’t watching your 3-year-old in the water, and more than likely—you’ll be thanking me later.
Lifeguarding isn’t as glamorous as a gig as people make it out to be. Even though there are hard days, angry parents, and clingy children, at the end of the day I loved my job. For five years lifeguarding consumed my life, and honestly I wouldn’t change a minute of it. I met some of my best friends through lifeguarding. And thanks to lifeguarding I am not afraid of most situations, I know how to survive in the coldest water conditions and I can swim the “Bermuda Triangle” (it’s a Wisconsin thing)—no sweat.
Next time you’re at the pool and you think the lifeguard is cute and just soaking in the rays—think again. I challenge any of you to take a lifeguarding course, pass the test, get hired and then keep your job.