Ever teach a Lifeguard training class where on the first day when the youth jump in to do the prerequisite distance swim they look like a cat that fell in the water? I never cease to be amazed by the people that sign up for a Lifeguard class. Amazed that some are such mature and smart youth that are interested in a job that serves community and works around the water, and amazed that some think they want to do a job that they have absolutely no real knack for.
It has been suggest by many informal conversations with my peers that the average life expectancy of a part-time Lifeguard is approximately 1.8 years, or about two seasons. Don’t get me wrong there are many Lifeguards out there that have been working for many more years than this, but generally we hire a bunch and a few hang around for 4 or 5 years and even less of them work longer than that. I believe this is because you are either a Lifeguard or you are not. Our esteemed profession is not for everyone. Some young people “get it” right away, some never “get it” and a chosen few fall in love with it.
It is this last group, the “chosen few” that truly impress me. I have had the pleasure of training over 1,500 experienced lifeguards from over 50 agencies over the past year and the quality and commitment of these individuals is awe inspiring. When young people pay out of pocket to attend an advanced training programs on their day off it impresses me and makes me proud of our legacy as life savers. Almost anyone can be a Lifeguard, pass the class then find an agency that is having a hard time getting staff and away you go. But not everyone can be a good lifeguard and even less can stand the test of time. This summer take a minute to acknowledge and reward the ones that “get it” for they truly are the future of our great profession.