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Why LIFEGUARD never made my resume

Just after high school, I took a summer course to become a Lifeguard.  I wish that I could say that it was because I had an overwhelming urge to help people.  That I thought Lifeguarding to be a noble profession and I sought to better myself by setting goals and such.

Nay.  That would be a lie.

In actuality, I just wanted a Lifeguard T-shirt because I thought I’d look totally awesome in it, and I thought that hanging out by the pool, meeting guys, and getting paid for it sounded like a fine idea.

But so did drinking Mad Dog 20/20 on an empty stomach.  And that never ended well either.

At several points during my Lifeguard training, I actually thought that I was going to die.  And frankly, I didn’t have all that much faith in my fellow Lifeguard trainees to feel confident that any one of them would save me.

There was one test that nearly did me in.  We were to fling ourselves into the deep end, fully clothed, wearing skin tight bell bottoms.  Remember, this was the 70’s.  We were then suppose to carefully remove our Keds and tie the laces together, placing them across our shoulders, should we be in need of shoes IF we made it to shore.

Once getting the skin tight jeans off, we were suppose to fashion them into a floatation device, by tying the end of the leg into a knot, then attempting to “capture” air in them by flying them over our head and then down quickly into the water.

I voted that we should just let the shoes drop, get the blankity blank pants off, and just swim for it.  Every man for himself.  The instructor vetoed my vote.  I’m pretty sure that I swallowed my weight in pool water during that lesson.

The last hurtle was that I needed to swim 20 lengths of the pool without stopping.  Not a strong swimmer under even the best of conditions, the rest of the class finished a good 30 minutes before I did.  As I dog paddled to the side, crawled up onto the pool deck, and prayed for death, the rest of the class applauded.

I don’t really think it was because they were proud of me, they were just glad that it was over.

After mercifully completing the course, I was hired as a sub-Lifeguard.  Which meant that I worked only when no one was in the pool.  I KNOW.  So much wasted talent.  I believe I lasted maybe two days.  Maybe.  And I never did get the stupid t-shirt.

Over the weekend, we visited Blizzard Beach.  There is an area of the park that my children love as it was created just for the kids.  This picture shows the two main features of this area:  1) The T-Bar, which is a bar on a zip line.  A child grabs hold of the bar and slides down to the end and drops into the water, and 2) a tunnel slide which shoots you out into rather deep water, and you are to paddle paddle to the nearest ladder.

There is only one underpaid Lifeguard on duty at this area.

On Saturday, Fiddledaddy and I sat watching our children frolic, and we witnessed no fewer than 8 rescues during a span of about 30 minutes.  And by rescue, I mean that the Lifeguard would blow her whistle, and jump into the water with ALL her paraphernalia, to save the hapless child involved.  I should mention that none of the rescues involved my children.  I was a nervous wreck before we left.  Gnawed every last cuticle down to the quick.

The T-Bar is tricky, because if you don’t let go at the end, the force of the stop can catapult a small child into the air, often causing them to flip.  Then when they finally do land in the water, they gasp, taking in water.  And if you’re not a decent swimmer, down like a rock you go.

The tunnel slide was cause for issue as well.  When you exit the tunnel, the water forces you down where it is rather deep.  Bottom line, you really need to be able to swim, or at the very least wear a life vest.

I witnessed one mother and son (neither of which could swim) come down the slide together.  When it was apparent they weren’t coming up, the dad went in to assist the child to the ladder.  Leaving the mother behind.  Well.  That was a mistake.  She let him have it for nearly letting her drown.  Really.  I heard some $5 curse words that caused even me to blush.

Fiddledaddy, who began his career a hundred or so years ago as a Lifeguard for Disney Worlds River Country (which is now closed) related to me many stories of saves.  I think the problem is that Disney seems to provide such a fun and safe atmosphere, what with all the Lifeguards milling about, parents forget that their little tykes REALLY NEED TO KNOW HOW TO SWIM BEFORE BEING SET FREE.

I was all kinds of grateful to my mother, once again, who gave up her summers to sit in a hot sweltering balcony of an indoor high school pool, so that I would learn how to swim in my youth.  And we’ve made certain that our children are good swimmers as well.

My stint as a Lifeguard was brief, but I am so glad that there are so many young men and women who take the job seriously.

10 Responses to Why LIFEGUARD never made my resume

  • Hay you passed the test!!! I took the same test only we had to stay under water at the bottom of the pool to get the shoes and pants off. It was timed thankfully because even though I could hold my breath that long, I could not stay at the bottom of the pool and ended up with my butt above water, my head down, shoes hanging from my teeth trying to get the pants off. The timer rang and I was dropped from the program before having to swim the length of the pool times 20! FINE! I have other talents, and they do not involve holding my breath and looking like a floating buoy!!

  • Sadly I am not a great swimmer. I do well enough to know my limits and can swim across the pool. We moved so much we never got swimming lessons or much exposure to a pool. I’m signing Charlie up for swimming lessons this summer. There are too many pools in backyards around here, plus the Gulf, waterparks, etc. for him to not know how to swim or at least know enough to get to safety.

  • I wondered what would happen if someone didn’t let go! I was watching your video and thinking how crappy it would be to body slam into the building at the end of the cable and envisioning the person cartoon peeling off the wall, into the water.
    I have a rather morbid imagination…

    • Diane,

      I KNOW! But, you can’t hit the wall, as you come to an abrupt halt at the end of the zip line. The metal thingie (technical term) slams into another metal thingie at the end. Hence if you haven’t let go by then, you likely fly high into the air and either flip or land on your back. Not pretty. Took 10 years off of my life just watching. 🙂

  • OH MY! I’m thinking I would have lost most than 10 years watching that. I can’t imagine that many rescues in just a few minutes! The lifeguard truly earned their pay. I wonder how often they switch out to get a break? I doubt the same guard could deal with that much rescuing on a 6-8 hour shift. BTW, I totally cracked up at your reasoning over a lifeguard career choice. Who wouldn’t want to do that at 18 for the super cute t-shirt?
    Mary

  • RIVER COUNTRY!
    What a blast from the past!
    I loved that place! Ahhhhh…..
    So sad when it closed. 🙁

  • We took my daughter to her first waterpark yesterday (she’s 8) and we decided we would end the weekend with a day at Typhoon Lagoon at Disney. She did great until we were in the wave pool and when she went underwater when the wave came two people stepped on her pushing her to the bottom which in turn scraped her back up and the poor thing was bleeding. She was a trooper and after going to first aid to get patched and up drying up a few tears she opted to go on the lazy river. No rescues were performed during our trip though 🙂

  • Just FYI, that T-bar will cause middle aged overweight moms to flip also, the ensuing shock shooting gallons of water up her nose. Just sayin.

  • I totally would have failed that test. Multiple times. 🙂

  • Last summer at Blizzard Beach my girl was just sliding down on one T-bar when another kid was ‘drowning’ at the end of the other one. The lifeguard shot out and got him, but when he left his seat it disabled her T-bar beside it.
    Everyone was watching the little boy, but after all of us were breathing relief the little boy was rescued, we looked up. There was my little 8 year old dangling from the T-bar holding on for dear life right outside the little hut.
    She had been scared to let go, and probably hung there two or three minutes. They told her to drop, and thankfully let her go to the front of the very LONG line and have a turn. It was hilarious. I got a picture of her dangling there, but I can’t find it. I felt bad I hadn’t looked for her in all the commotion and told her she could drop. She wasn’t too upset, rode it three more times!
    They really should warn parents, though. My kiddo swims great, but you would not believe the number who really struggled after flipping at the end!