Lifeguarding as a skill

made by and for Vivacious Logophile by Aggeliki
In the summertime when the weather is hot you can stretch right up and touch the sky! You got swimming you got swimming on your mind …

August’s dogs days are here and all we crave is long long stays at the beach, sometimes until the next day’s sunrise.

By rule, summers are for slowing down and having fun! Going to the beach, swimming and playing for hours at a crystal blue sea! Building sand castles and sunbathing under the yellow bright hot sun!

But, if you ask me, summers are for investing in ourselves and growing our skillset,too.

For more and more young people, during or after college, summertime is ideal for getting a seasonal job. Despite my friends and others, I decided to get my passion into a summer job’ being a lifeguard!

As long as I remember myself I had this inexplicable love for water and sea. I remember my childhood summers; I was playing for hours and hours at the beach, while I was crying by the time we had to leave. Later, I discovered swimming pools and I am never again out of the water. So why not being a lifeguard?

At that time I was swimming at a professional level, so there was no fear of the water or getting drown. I have mastered this skill a long time ago!

But why lifeguarding? My urge was the love of both the sea and the summer themselves! Why not turning my passion into a summer job that pays well?! I would get a summer tan, as a bonus too!

From this day forward, I have been a professional open sea and swimming pool lifeguard for almost 5 years. What I have come now to realise is that this “out of the blue” decision I made, with my mind mostly on having fun on summers, helped me develop a great amount of skills needed in today’s modern workplace.

Here’s what I learnt!

What skills a lifeguard develops?

  1. Organisation: An unorganised lifeguard isn’t a life savor! You can’t expect people count on you saving their lives if you do not know where your oxygen bottle is! One of the very first things a professional lifeguard has to do is getting the lifeguard tower organised. Knowing where your first aid kit is and setting your rescue can or rescue tube on the right places are just two of the must-do moves to start with. Following the rules and keeping cards with emergency contacts in visible spots, will take you a step forward. Remember: if you want people to trust you, you need to show them the reasons why. Don’t let them down and get organised the minute you arrive at the beach.
  2. Focus: During your watch you need to stay focus and don’t lose sight of the swimmers at any time and any cost. It might be hard at first due to all those distractions that lay in front of you; the blue sea, your friends having fun at the nearest beach bar, people swimming or playing at the beach, even your phone could be a distraction, as well. You just need not to succumb at any of these temptations. You should focus on the safety of the swimmers and keep yourself alert in case of a drowning incident. What I can promise is that shutting down distractions will help you do a better job and keep a clear mind throughout a whole working day.
  3. Working under pressure : Lifeguarding is not just another job, where, if you screw it up once, it’s fine, you could just go on like nothing has ever happened. As a lifeguard you are responsible for human lives and staying calm at an emergency crisis is critical! As a lifeguard you get to make decisions under extreme levels of pressure and prioritise your every move. Did you know that the average time a man has for going under a brain comma and eventually get drown is only a few minutes? Did you do the math? Exactly, that is the time a lifeguard has in his disposal to save that man! Between these few minutes, he should locate the emergency, stay calm and assess how critical for the swimmer’s life it is, make a decision, prioritise his moves and act!
  4. Taking initiatives: Taking a step back, a good lifeguard is the one with zero drowning incidents in its working history. Could you imagine why? Because he took an initiative not during or after a drowning incident, but before one happens! The golden rule of lifeguarding is taking all the necessary precautions and measures, making sure no drowning incident will happen at your beach! Act before you react!
  5. Communication skills: Lifeguarding isn’t a one-woman show! Well, to be true, it kinda is, but that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to people at all just because you are sitting on a tower! People of all ages will come and speak to you. Who are you? Are you a personal trainer? Do you swim? Where do you live? What do you study? How old are you? Of course, you are not obligated to answer any of these questions but, remember what we said a few lines above; you want people to trust you! Participating in short conversations with your swimmers will get you their trust! We don’t easily trust someone if we do not get to know him first! 
    On the other hand of communication, comes the “hand of help” you may need in a drowning incident. Talk to the people that swim in your beach every day. Is there a doctor among them? Now, how about the beach bar 100m away from your tower? Yes, the one your friends used to go! Get in touch with the people working there. They could call the ambulance for you, if it’s needed! In this way your main focus is only on the rescue!
  6. Responsibility: Responsibility is the word that most describes lifeguarding. You need to be responsible and able to take responsibilities. If you only want to be a lifeguard because you want girls to like you, then this is not a job for you. Moreover, if an incident occurs you are responsible to act. No matter if it is far or near, if it is a woman, man or a child, black or white, christian or muslim, your friend or your enemy. You are there to keep people safe no matter what the circumstances. Be responsible towards those that put their life into your hands.

At the end of the day keep in mind that everything you do, equip you with knowledge and skills you could never dream of!

Go and rock this summer!

P.s. Swim safely!

— Aggeliki

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