Life as a Lifeguard

By Makenna Adams

For three years, I have worked as a lifeguard at a local pool where I grew up spending my summers swimming, hanging out with friends, and soaking up the sun from May to October. Working at the Cabana Club where I learned to swim is perhaps my favorite aspect of my job; I relish the fact that, as a lifeguard, I can make a difference in the childhoods of young swimmers who flock to the pool just as I eagerly did in my youth. Another reason I enjoy my job is that I get to choose when I work; my schedule is fully in my control. During the summer, I tend to work four hour shifts, typically three to four times a week. When school resumes and activity at the pool winds down in the fall, I work five hour shifts once a weekend. Having a controllable schedule is helpful for managing work, school, and sports. 

Lifeguarding requires training. In April of 2018, I got First Aid, AED, and Lifeguard certifications at the Campbell Community Center. The classes spanned the course of two consecutive weekends, and were the most affordable option for training in my area. Additionally, knowing how to swim is an imperative part of the job. Fortunately, my dad taught me to swim before I could walk, so I have grown up knowing how to swim. Shockingly, the classes were more cut-throat than I envisioned when it came to knowing how to swim; by the end of the first day, the instructor sent two kids home who he thought were not strong enough swimmers. That being said, “simply knowing how to swim and not being afraid of the water” is typically qualification enough for getting a job as a pool-side lifeguard, the instructor assured us. This spring, I got recertified at Happy Fish Swim School in Livermore. The recertification class was taught efficiently because the instructor knew the subject expertly—I bring this up because recertification classes are difficult to come by, and if you are a prospective lifeguard, you should take this one!Being First Aid and Lifeguard Certified has been a transferable skill I did not anticipate would come in handy before getting the job. The qualifications have proved reassuring to parents of kids I babysit, and I feel safer myself knowing I have the skills to react to an emergency. They also have proved necessary for other jobs I have acquired at the same pool: coaching and teaching swim lessons. In conclusion, if you like the water, and are interested in lifeguarding, go for it! Don’t expect Baywatch though; life as a lifeguard is nowhere near that glamorous.