For the last almost 4 years of my life, I have been a lifeguard at my local swimming pool, a job which I both love and find slightly dull. My mum always says it’s better to be bored rather than having to leap into action every 10 minutes, a sentiment with which I heartily agree.
I love this job mainly because of the people I work with every single day. They are hilarious, friendly, occasionally moany and full of some great stories. They welcome me back after a tough term at uni with the same enthusiasm and questions as they would if I‘d just had a week off. Going to work is comfortable and on more than one occasion I’ve fleetingly considered sacking in university life for the comfort and ease of this environment. But then I remember y’know, I quite like education.
I have spent nearly 4 years with these people and at times you forget why you’re there. It’s not exactly a thrilling job most of the time and often the swimmers are the worst thing about it. There are numerous signs around the pool baring the standard ‘no diving’ and ‘no running’ commandments but the amount of people who have deemed themselves too clever and important to follow these common sense rules is BAFFLING! If you are such a person, let me enlighten you. The side of the pool is very wet and slippery; if you run, you will probably slip and could either end up with a nasty bruise, a chipped tooth or a broken limb. So if you fancy dicing with a poolside injury, go forth and run, but expect to be yelled at to stop. If you dive in, the chances that you will end up with a head injury of some kind or even a spinal injury is relatively high. Are you going to risk it? I wouldn’t, so be sensible, yeah? If not for yourself, then for the sake of us poor lifeguards who will have to deal with the consequences of your stupid mistake because you couldn’t be bothered to follow the rules.
That said, my friends make fun of me regularly when I say that I’m going to work. I get jokes like “Oh cool, so you’re going to go and have a sit for a couple hours, yeah?”, or “don’t exert yourself too much will you, getting out of that high chair is quite tricky sometimes!” You get the gist, they think all we lifeguards do is sit around and blow a whistle every now and again, but I am here to tell you that this is not the case. Yesterday I actually had to do some work. I had to get in and perform a rescue.
In all of my 20 years on this planet, I haven’t experienced adrenaline like it. I honestly had no idea that I could move so fast and react to something so quickly! A little boy of about 5 was in a swimming lesson, got out of his depth and lost his float. I remember noticing him struggling to keep his head above the water. I remember my heart stopping and a distinct ‘oh shit’ train of thought running through my mind. But, err, I don’t quite remember how I got out of the chair and into the water, but I remember the tunnel vision as my instincts kicked in and all that mattered at the moment was getting to the boy. Unfortunately this meant that some of my training went out of the window and I may have forgotten to blow my whistle, but hopefully this is excusable. I remember people staring and the code blue alarm blaring, which indicates to everyone in the centre that there is an emergency in the pool. That sound is enough to make everyone’s heart skip a beat and would’ve done the same for mine except for the fact that I think mine had already stopped. I carried the lad to the side and I remember emerging from the water completely drenched and shaking like a leaf and remained in this state for a good 15 minutes after. But it was done and I am now a proper real-life lifeguard. I have fulfilled the purpose I was trained for and that feels pretty good.
One thing I will learn from this experience is the need to take spare underwear to work with me from now on, because in the words of our amazing receptionist Mandy, I had to sit for the rest of my shift with wet boobs. Banter!
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