“A lifeguard is like a storm shelter- you may never need it, but if you do, it can be a lifesaver.”
I did not set out to become a lifeguard when I was growing up. However, the opportunity arose when the camp I worked at needed volunteers to serve as lifeguards. Since I grew up swimming in the aquatics program at the YMCA, it was something I knew I had the skills to do. When I started to train for the class, I quickly realized it was going to be one of the hardest things I have ever done. After spending many afternoons in an unheated, outdoor pool in April, I passed my first lifeguard class! Becoming a certified lifeguard was truly the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also one of my proudest accomplishments. Serving as a lifeguard has played a huge role in developing me as a leader, an employee, and as a mom.
Lifeguarding will give you a unique set of skills that not many people have.
The United States Lifesaving Association says, “We are between 30,000-50,000 lifeguards short in the United States.” Pools everywhere are looking for certified lifeguards. This is important to know because 60% of the drowning deaths among children occur in swimming pools that are not guarded. Drowning is the number one cause of unintentional deaths in children ages one to four. Having that set of skills could save a life.
The second reward of being a lifeguard is flexibility.
YMCAs have pools that are open year round, seven days a week, from early morning to late evening. It is the perfect opportunity to work a couple of hours around your schedule. If you are in high school or college, want a second job, or are looking for ways to fill retirement, we have shifts for you.
Serving in aquatics is a unique team atmosphere.
People from all walks of life can serve as lifeguards. Swimming as a sport has been around since the Stone Age with written references from 2000 B.C. Serving as a lifeguard will give you opportunities to work alongside people who may be older or younger than you, but are united by a similar love and passion for the water. Anton, a Y lifeguard of fifteen years, says, “The people that I work with is the reason why I love being a lifeguard.” Working as a lifeguard creates a special team environment that not many jobs can offer.
Becoming a lifeguard gives you the chance to apply and grow your leadership skills.
Every time you take the stand, you are responsible for the lives of others. That responsibility requires attention to detail, multi-tasking, customer service, and the ability to make and carry out split-second decisions. This lays a solid foundation for further careers. One former lifeguard used his experience to lead our nation as the fortieth president of the United States, Ronald Reagan.
Being a lifeguard gives you the chance to make a difference that will change someone’s life.
The first time I had to use my skills as a lifeguard was at a staff party. In the middle of the party we heard someone panicked and screaming for help. The woman was frantic, because her husband was having a heart attack. Everyone worked together to help save his life. During the rescue, the woman looked at me and said, “He is my life, my partner for fifty-years. I don’t know what I am going to do if I lose him.” At that moment, our presence and skills changed the course of that couple’s life.
What if there were no lifeguards? The answer is simple – according to the United States national lifesaving statistics, around 89,000 people in 2017 would not be alive. Being a lifeguard truly gives you the chance of serving as a storm shelter for those who need it.
The Gateway Region YMCA is currently hiring lifesavers.
Written by: Aquatics Director at the South City Family YMCA