By Keith Smith
The lifeguard position ensures the safety of pool patrons and assists with aquatic programs and pool operation. Did you know that from 2005-2016, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day.
The average age of a lifeguard is between 16 and 18 years of age. The young lifeguard has a lot of responsibilities, each time that a lifeguard goes into the lifeguard chair he has the life of each swimmer in that pool in his hands, he or she at any given second could be face with the reality that they might have to save a life.
I am an aquatic professional with 22 years’ experience training lifeguards, I have trained YMCA lifeguards and American Red Cross lifeguards and the training is challenging, the student learns the importance of maintaining lifeguarding knowledge and skills. The American Red Cross lifeguard program is 28 to 30 hours and teaches:
- Surveillance skills to help you recognize and prevent injuries
- Rescue skills – in the water and on land
- First aid training and professional rescuer CPR – to help prepare you for any emergency
- Professional lifeguard responsibilities like interacting with the public and addressing uncooperative patrons
To become a lifeguard you must first pass the prerequisite skills test which includes a 300 yard swim (100 freestyle, 100 breaststrokes, and 100 choice of freestyle or breaststroke) and you must swim 20 yards and surface dive 10 feet retrieving a 10 pound brick. Once the swimmer has retrieved the brick then the swimmer must swim 20 yards on their back while holding the brick to the original starting point. The swimmer must exit the water without using a ladder or steps. This prerequisite must be completed in 1 min and 40 seconds. The student must be able to tread water for two minutes without using hands.
Once the students complete the lifeguard class they must obtain a lifeguard permit from the Louisville Metro Board of Health to work in Louisville Metro which consist of passing a Board of Health guard course (water skills) and passing a written test.
Louisville Metro Parks Aquatics will be hosting American Red Cross Lifeguard classes at the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center at 201 Reservoir Ave. now through the end of May. The cost of the classes is $200. Anyone who is interested in being a lifeguard for Louisville Metro Parks may take the class for free!
Please contact Keith Smith at the Mary T Meagher Aquatic Center at (502)895-6499 or by e-mailing me.