What Our Guard Staff Have to Say About Their Important Job
When we give the gift of service it can help us feel content, knowing the difference we are making. Our lifeguards give this gift every time they grab their whistle, put on their bright red shirt, and begin the constant scan of the pool. We spoke to several members of the aquatics staff here at Upper Valley Aquatic Center to get their perspective on the work they do, their motivations, and their safety tips.
“It can be pretty easy to assume that we’re just sitting there and not doing much, but I think most people would be surprised at how demanding scanning the pools for hazards can be. If you’ve ever participated in a staring contest or looked at a screen long enough to feel the strain on your eyes, then you’ll have a bit of a sense of what it feels like on the lifeguard stand. It takes effort to maintain a very active level of attention. Any lapse in attention leaves the potential for dangerous situations to manifest so staying focused is critical,” Danielle, UVAC Aquatics Coordinator, explains. Despite common misconceptions, a swimmer in distress is not going to be able to call for help or make frantic movements due to fatigue. Someone may attempt to swim but makes little progress, bob on the water’s surface, or gasp for air frequently. All of these are ques that lifeguards are looking for as they constantly scan keeping a close eye on each and every patron – those in the water and on the pool deck as well.
While our lifeguards are here to keep our pools safe, it is also our personal responsibility to stay aware and follow pool rules. “Every person has a different comfort levels in the water, and to be aware of when you are uncomfortable is super helpful in staying safe,” Meredith, a veteran UVAC lifeguard explains. Ashley, UVAC’s Aquatics Director, emphasizes, “Water safety is first and foremost a parent’s responsibility, that is why we ask patrons to keep young children close. A drowning can occur in as little as 60 seconds and requires as little as half a cup of water.” This can seem harsh, but the reality is the importance of water safety needs to be taken seriously by all.
Despite the constant attention to detail, it is a rewarding career, Danielle explains, “Every day we’ll see patrons who are rehabilitating injuries or beginner swimmers of all ages facing their fears of water by taking lessons. Likewise, aquatic exercise can be a great option for people with limited mobility. What motivates me is the bravery and determination it takes for vulnerable patrons to take the plunge in these situations. They feel confident to pursue these activities in part because they know they’re being watched by lifeguards who are prepared to keep them safe.” Ashley gets her motivation from the team she works closely with, “The lifeguard team is AMAZING! They support each other, they lift each other, and they challenge each other to do their best every day.” Conversely, Meredith gets motivation from the environment around her, explaining, “A big motivator for me is having the familiarity and ease of communication between myself and members as they come into the facility.”
We encourage you to visit us today, become a member, or buy a day pass, swim in our pools, participate in an aquatics workout class, or take the kids swimming. Knowing that our lifeguards are making your safety their top priority. You will quickly see why we were voted the best fitness center in the Upper Valley.
If you are not currently certified, and have an interest in becoming a lifeguard, we are continuously offering certification courses thru the American Red Cross. Contact Ashley Ellis today by emailing [email protected] or visit https://uvacswim.org/red-cross/ Plus Upper Valley Aquatic Center is actively hiring lifeguards!
By Emily Stella, UVAC Marketing Intern and HR Associate