Serious About Safety

20 July 2015

Lifeguarding is not just an easy summer job that allows teens to sit on a stand and work on their tan. In fact, YMCA lifeguards are put to the test every day on the job.

The YMCA’s outdoor and indoor pools see hundreds of members and guests come through every day to swim, cool off, play and socialize. And each of those days at these pools begins with the lifeguards.

There are a multitude of duties that go into keeping the pool environment safe and fun. Skimmer baskets must be cleared, pool chemical levels kept in balance, decks free of debris, umbrellas set up, backboards ready, and all equipment must be in proper working order. All of these tasks are performed by the lifeguards.

Lifeguards are also required to complete a weekly in-service. This could be practicing backboard use with another guard, handling situations simulating an actual emergency, demonstrating CPR and First Aid skills, or even swimming laps. Drop drills are also frequently executed. At least once a week, a silhouette or red ball is inconspicuously dropped into the pool. This drill is timed and recorded, ensuring that guards are scanning at all times.

Because summertime heat is a concern, YMCA lifeguards never work more than five hours at a time. They are always on the frontline, and are usually the first person that other staff and members approach with questions, as well as complaints. Lifeguards must limit conversations while on active duty, keeping their eyes on their zone of coverage rather than making eye contact with the person speaking to them. 

On Saturday, July 25, lifeguards from the entire YMCA of South Hampton Roads association will train and compete with each other at the annual lifeguard challenge. This yearly event serves as an important in-service training, but it is also a chance for friendly rivalry between the aquatics staff from the different family centers. Because all YMCAs participate in this training, pools will close early on this date. Please refer to the 2018 Aquatic Event Guide for each YMCA family center's closing time on this date.

YMCA lifeguards will be back at work the very next day, ready to help assure that everyone has a safe and fun time at all YMCA indoor and outdoor pools. And always remember, when the whistle blows, look to a lifeguard immediately!