NOT QUITE BAYWATCH….

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Credit Google Images

Coolest job of the summer? Lifeguard, of course!

Growing up, I always thought the kids that got to be lifeguards were the ones that applied first or knew someone who gave them the job. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.

My son recently applied for his first summer job. He mentioned at his interview that his goal was to be a lifeguard. As he would turn 16 (legal age) halfway through the summer, his future employer was most positive and said, “Well, why don’t you pick up your lifeguard certification now and you can help out the lifeguards and get a feel for things while you’re 15 and at 16, you’ll be set and we’ll use you as a lifeguard.”

Take note of those words up there……….”pick up”….right…”Picking up” your certification isn’t quite that easy we soon found out!

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Credit Google Images

First, despite living in a community that is ON LAKE ERIE with no less than 11 beaches just in the state park area, an indoor waterpark that is open year-round, a summertime amusement park that has a huge waterpark, and a million and one pools and clubs where lifeguards are needed, there are no classes for lifeguarding! We had to do quite a bit of looking on the Internet and calling around to find a YMCA 45 minutes away that offered the American Red Cross Lifeguarding course that would certify him before summer. Son’s swim coach told him he was actually lucky to find this class as kids here sometimes end up driving to Cleveland, Ohio (almost 2 hours away) to get their certifications!

We were also lucky because this YMCA was beginning their class in 2 days. So with visions of Baywatch, a great tan, cool sunglasses, and girls fawning over him in his head, my son paid the $165.00 and signed on.  Yes, that’s right….he paid money so he could earn money.    Not your typical summer job, huh?

Credit Google Images

Credit Google Images

Credit Google Images

Credit Google Images

Classes were held over 2 weekends:

Fridays 6.00p to 10.00p
Saturday 3.00p to 10.00p
and Sundays 12.00p to 7.00p 

In case it’s not immediately clear to you, that’s 36 hours!

‘Tis true, this class had an add-on module included for waterfront lifeguarding that added an extra 5.4 hours to the class, but even without that, normal lifeguarding courses give you over 30 hours of instruction.

Anyway, being signed up, we figured we were good to go. Not the case. In order to even be admitted to the class, you have to pass a swimming pre-test. During that test, my son had to:

• Swim 550 yards continuously, using both breaststroke and front crawl
• Tread water for 3 minutes using only the legs
• Retrieve 3 rings placed 5 yards apart on bottom of pool.

• Complete the following timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds (no goggles allowed):

—Starting in the water, swim 20 yards
—Surface dive to a depth of 7 to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound brick
—Return to the surface and swim on his back with 10-pound brick on his chest (no underwater swimming) and return to the starting point
—Get himself and his 10-pound brick out of the water without using a ladder or
steps

My son made it through. Others, however, did not.   They were eliminated from the class.

Credit Google Images

Credit Google Images

After that, the real fun began…A 300-page manual with online assessments at the end of each chapter that had to be taken at home during the week. (Yes, that’s right! They were expected to study during the week as well!) Once the coursework from the manual was taught during class there were 2 written tests to be taken in class. Both had to be passed.

And, of course, each day there was swimming with various drowning/injury scenarios acted out and the appropriate responses gone over both in and out of the water. Backboards were used and each student had a turn at playing both the victim and the rescuer. The worst part sometimes, my son said, was lying soaking wet and shivering with chattering teeth on a board in the cool air for an hour waiting for the “rescuers” to figure out how to get the victim out of the water and onto the “shore.”

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Credit Google Images

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Credit Google Images

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Credit Google Images

At the end of this training, three rescue scenarios were given PER STUDENT and the student had to carry out the appropriate response each time. If he was unable to do this, he would not be certified.

A whole day and then some was spent on getting the students certified in CPR and instructing them in the use of an AED. They had to learn appropriate methods for both adults and children.

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Credit Google Images

And that extra module I mentioned before about waterfront lifeguarding? That not only added time to the class, but also culminated in yet another written test at the end.

Hence, not so much Baywatch and pretty girls, but instead a lot of hard physical training, being taught to try and anticipate every disaster imaginable, tons of cramming through coursework to pass the assessments, followed up with promises of how lifeguards get sued when things go wrong. 1 (6)

Surprisingly, I’m quite pleased with the differences this training has made in my son already. He’s looking ahead and taking initiative. He carries himself differently – It’s given him a veneer of confidence that wasn’t there before and built up his pride in himself and he hasn’t even started his job yet.  Oh, I’m sure there’s still this wishful picture in his head…..

Credit Google Images

Credit Google Images

But our son told us after his first day in class, he’ll never look at a pool in the same way again. He said he never realized how dangerous pools could be! Me? I’ve also found a new respect.  I’ll never again look at a lifeguard and think they’re just the favoured/lucky kids. Lifeguards are really put through their paces to get that coveted position up in the chair. As far as I’m concerned, they earn every single bit of their income before they ever hang that whistle around their neck.

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Credit Google Images

 

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80 thoughts on “NOT QUITE BAYWATCH….

  1. I read this with growing admiration for your son and all those qualified lifeguards out there. I never realised what becoming a lifeguard entailed in the way of training. Kudos to your son. He’s a star and you can be so proud of him. 🙂

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    • Thank you! And it’s the same for me……growing admiration all the way through. I am impressed and he is a star! It’s already begun, but I can see this making huge changes in how he approaches things from now on….not a bad place to be when he’s getting ready for driving lessons this year……

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  2. This brought back memories of my teenage years as a lifeguard on a waterfront. You did a great job of summarizing how much training goes into being a lifeguard. Congratulations to your son for completing this grueling training.

    Being on a waterfront, we also had training in water rescues while fully clothed and self-defence in the water … ie drowning people are fighting for their life and become extraordinarily strong and irrational.
    A child can drown an adult trying to rescue them. We had to learn how to break free of choke holds and head locks from a panicking swimmer in deep water rescues.
    All of our training was done on a beach in water that was rarely warmer than 68F and often murky.

    Being a lifeguard is hard work …. not only do you have to get your certification, it’s not a one time event. It needs to be refreshed. Their job might look easy and they might look bored, but they are likely constantly assessing whether that behaviour ‘over there’ is play or distress. It’s not always obvious. Unlike in the movies, people in distress rarely call for help … they’re too busy trying to survive. I still instinctively do it to this day.

    No – I never had to do an actual rescue on the job. Ironically, I did have to rescue a child in my own backyard pool.

    Sorry for this very long comment! Kudos to your son! It is one of the best jobs a teenager can get for personal development and learning leadership and responsibility!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hear, Hear, Joanne. That’s totally what I was trying to say…..it’s an amazing responsibility and the training is so overlooked when people see a lifeguard patrolling a pool or body of water.

      That extra module I talked about was indeed the waterfront module, though here they actually still trained in the pool and not on the beach (makes much more sense to train on the beach for that, but who am I to disagree..) I was just bowled over by the whole process and finding out that he has to keep up his training every two years just amazed me. Makes sense, but again, not something I had thought of prior to this!

      Also, I love your long comment! And how funny (not really funny, but you know what I mean) that the rescue you did had to be in your own backyard! You just never know!

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    • I’ve heard that too, Joanne, that the drowning person doesn’t look like those portrayed in the movies – flailing arms and calling for help. I remember you mentioning to me about the drowning child in your own pool. Thank God that you were there.

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  3. It is so good to know that all this training is given, because in fact, they are training to save lives. Very proud of your son for doing this. I, too, now have a new respect. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Fear of drowning has always been my biggest fear. I am so surprised at the level of training your son has undergone and very relieved to tell the truth. I can’t help but wonder if those handsome kids with the white noses and the twirling whistles were trained this well back in the sixties and seventies. I hope so!

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    • Well, I don’t think AEDs were so readily available back then, but probably the rest of it is close to the same. Drowning is scary! But it’s a little less scary thinking of this sort of training going on behind the scenes……

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  5. Incredible read and I had no idea. So hats off to your son, a very big deal and most definitely he’ll be making a difference in others lives that he’ll be guarding. Very best wishes to him in his new job, what a way to go!

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  6. Wow. I’m exhausted. When I was a teen the lifeguards along the Atlantic Ocean in my neck of the… beach… were all college age. Now, they look twelve (i’m not older am I?). But the thought that they went through that training and then the “save a life in the ocean against rip tides and crashing waves training” on top of that and I do have a new respect for those boys/men.
    Well done to your son!
    cate

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  7. There definitely is a preconceived notion of seeing life guards as kids who get to hang around a beach all day doing little to nothing but it’s important to remember that these kids actually know how to save a life. Congratulations to your son. I don’t think I would have made it through.

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  8. I think I got tired reading that! That was some grueling that your son went through and hats off to him… Good to know that the safety of thousands lies in dependable hands 🙂

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  9. My goodness, I didn’t expect the level of thoroughness they clearly go through – but so reassuring to know should anyone suffer difficulties in the water. It’s a superb achievement to pass and a life skill he’ll always have & include on his CV. Very impressed 🏊🏻

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  10. Phwor! What hard work, I had no idea, well done him! I will always think of lifeguards fondly – my mum was a lifeguard at my primary school swimming pool during the summer – then again, that went to a maximum depth of 6ft, so its not quite the same league, but still. Good luck to him, great he knows what he wants and is striving to get it!

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  11. Miriam says:

    Very cool! Congratulations to your son- that’s quite an accomplishment. I guess it’s a good thing though, that the training is so rigorous.

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  12. I spent summers at a pool. Always wanted to be a life guard. Never wanted to do the “picking up” part. And, didn’t want to be responsible. And didn’t want fun at the pool to be a job. I liked running at the pool. Didn’t want to be the guy blowing the whistle at runners.

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  13. Good for him for making the grade. I remember lifeguard training being particularly grueling. My gymnastics coach was our “victim” for the the exam and he was lean, without an ounce of buoyant fat on him. A real sinker! You are rightfully proud of your son.
    What a shame those are Google images you used and not your son’s actual classmates!

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    • Yes, for some reason, they didn’t invite the parents to come in and wildly snap pix as per our norm. My son was the youngest in the class and I think most everyone else drove themselves to and from. Still, I would’ve loved to have seen some of this training…maybe not the whole 36 hours, but just hearing him talk about it all was most intriguing. Alas, I guess he’s charting his own course now into places Mum’s camera can’t go…..still…there’s always this summer when I’ll be prowling near his lifeguard station with the trusty lens!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Yup! My younger son worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the YMCA here. Went through all that too. It’s tough.

    Liked the pictures – took me back 20 years to slow motion opening credits 🙂

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  15. wow – some training to go through – and congrats for him (and you) to get this all together- talk about persevering. 🙂 and it makes me appreciate the work they do more as well –

    a few years ago we noticed that the lifeguards at Kings Dominion walk and pace – hardly any of them sit there – and they also rotate every 15 minutes or so – and when you see them pacing or changing guards – I always marveled because I knew there was more to the shuffle than meets the eye – they were following a well devised plan that aimed to keep them alert and fresh.

    anyhow, cheers again to his sucecss.

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  16. A young friend once gave me the tip that lifeguarding paid way better than flipping burgers (150% better). I’ve kept it in mind but I’m not sure my non-sporty geeky boys are anywhere near being able to attempt certification. So burgers it is (for now).

    As someone more likely to be on the receiving end of a lifeguarding act, I am very, very grateful to read how rigorous is the qualification process.

    Congratulations to your son! What an achievement! (And how cool is it to get the side benefits of the change in him? That would make me glow as a mum. 🙂 )

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    • I am glowing quite a bit, you’re right. I’m so chuffed he made it through all this, but am just absolutely astounded how little idea I had about any of it before this. I guess it’s just not something I ever thought about but even signing him up and knowing it was a two-weekend class when I did that, I was still just amazed how much went into this and that it wasn’t a given that if he signed up he’d pass. I actually came out feeling quite lucky in the end that we hadn’t wasted our time/money and that he was able to pull this off somehow. Am also feeling quite lonely here now as I am now the only one in our house not certified in CPR. Guess I’m going to have to sign up for my own class next while everyone here is out saving lives at work!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. It seems they are certainly making sure that you know what you want to do, definitely not for the faint hearted and a sure fire way to sort the wheat from the chaff! Tell your little blade of wheat I said congratulations 🙂 lol

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  18. Holy Cow. I’m totally gobsmacked as to the amount of time and effort and SKILL! your son has had to commit to and display in this process. What an astonishing feat. You must be incredibly chuffed with this fabulous fellow, Torrie.
    He’s shown an admirable amount of determination. I would be non-stop squishing the guy for weeks.
    Congratulations to him for this hard won achievement and also to you for creating someone I think we’re all lucky to have watching our backs–or our bodies as the case may be.
    Cheers!

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    • Awwww! Thank you! Such enthusiastic feedback that reminds me now how I felt when I found out he MADE IT! It is amazing – both sides….the requirements and that he did this! Thanks for sharing the excitement and wonder!

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    • Hah! You’re so right and I haven’t had the heart to tell him what a 15-year-old is going to look like up against the 18-year-old lifeguards…..I guess this is how you begin to learn about the trickle-down effect, huh? 🙂 Thanks for popping over!

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