Lifeguarding is tough, but highly recommended

Published 9:29 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I recently heard the YMCA is offering classes for lifeguard certification starting this month. This is something that all Y’s, including our Y here, do regularly. The lifeguard certification process nationally is this well-oiled machine and these certification classes can be done at a variety of different places. I would love to encourage any and all teens and young adults to take part in this course, not only because the YMCA needs our support, but also because of the lessons teens can take away from the job.

When most people ask you about being a lifeguard they joke around and say, “It would be such a nice job to just get to sit around all day and be by the pool.”

Sure I know it sounds like an easy job — but in reality it is pretty challenging at times and you learn a great deal about other people as well as yourself. As a budding teen and competitive swimmer, it was only natural that I would choose to teach swim lessons and lifeguard through summers in high school for extra cash and to save up for college.

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I found the job was everything but just sitting around the pool. The greatest lesson I took away from being a lifeguard was assertiveness. I started working as someone who did not believe in confrontation and left being able to wrangle wild children and telling them firmly if they did not stop running by the pool they would suffer consequences. I was put in the tough position of standing up to adults. I had to tell scary baseball coaches after a pee-wee game they were not allowed to drink out of glass bottles on the poolside. This may seem small, but learning how to enforce rules to strangers and also to people you were friends with was a huge take-away.

There was also the “mom” in me that came out. I was never the babysitting type of girl but after the first several toddlers I saved from falling in the pool, something inside me triggered. I learned how to not only watch for accidents but I saw them coming long before and tried to prevent them.

The certification classes begin on Nov. 4. The total cost for the class is $300 but that includes a CPR mask, all of the books and materials and the YMCA is offering to pay 2/3 of the price if the participant agrees to sign a pledge to work for the YMCA for one year on a part time schedule. That fee may sound like a lot but you can make that money back in a matter of several weeks. Lifeguarding is great money.

So while your friends take up monotonous jobs, try out lifeguarding. You will honestly learn how to save lives, you will be a more watchful parent one day and you will learn how to yell and find it in you to tell people “No.” And even though having other’s lives in your hands is a lot of pressure, there are some slow minutes where — yes — you can just sit by the pool.