By RON PRESTON
Some people look at lifeguarding as an easy job because they say, “I know how to swim, so therefore I can do it too.”
“Lifeguarding may look like or seem like an easy task for any athletic person because they go to the pool or the lake and swim,” said Ann Strunk, instructor of lifeguarding for the Abilene Parks and Recreation Department.
Strunk said lifeguards must complete 300 yards of continuous swimming without stopping, so it is a little different when just swimming.
“You can have great athletes who can’t do the continuous swim, different breathing and so some are surprised by that,”she said.
Currently there are 13 trained and certified lifeguards working various shifts for the Abilene Municipal Swimming Pool according to Kelle Timbrook of the Parks and Rec Department.
“There are lots of things that goes into being a life guard. There’s a 30 - hour course that is just for basic lifeguarding and it consists of lifeguarding, CPR, training on an AED (automated external defibrillator), there is not one at our pool, but there is one at the community center that they are trained how to use and also first aide. These are the major components,” Strunk said.
“The training is through the American Red Cross and the person must be 15 at the time they end the course, and that’s actually why we are having another class so late in the year because we have some kids that are turning 15 this summer,” she said.
“We usually train in May between the time students get out of school and the pool opens,” she said.
“The first thing that they really do, and it’s really important, is the person must be able to swim. They have to do a 100 - yard free style or front crawl, 100 yard of breastroke, and then another 100 yards of either of the two, so they have 300 yards of continuous swimming,” she said.
“There is the 300 yards continuous swimming, treading water for three minutes without using their hands and they have to do a series of picking up a 10 pound brick off the bottom of the pool, usually around the 10 foot mark, and bring the brick back to the side of the pool in a timed event,” Strunk said.
“Potential candidates for lifeguarding must be able to do these things before we even start the training program. We call that pre-course,” she said.
“They do bookwork as well as in water training,” Timbrook said.
“The bookwork is done at the Community Center and then they train with Ann and Caite Kendrick at the pool. Caite is the water safety instructor and sometimes co-teaches with Ann,” Timbrook said.
“Since our pool has a zero depth water entry and a slide we also have to do water park training and it’s just a little bit more to address the needs having the slide and zero depth entry,” Strunk concluded.
The lifeguards task is not simple and they might just save a life.