Everything you’ll ever understand if you’ve been a lifeguard

Let’s be honest, it’s watching water

Four years ago I took my NPLQ lifeguarding exam, mainly because my mum said I wouldn’t pass it. Years later, I continue to pursue my dream job. The greatest job. Lifeguarding indoor pools. Unfortunately, it has its drawbacks, as much as its advantages.

You use something called a squeegee

If nothing else, the name of your favourite cleaning object makes the job worth it. However, it does absolutely nothing against caked mud and you may hate it by the end of your shift.

Parents do not look after their children

You can have as many lane ropes and boxes for floats as you like. These will become chaos in a matter of minutes when Mummy lets darling Matilda swim in the fast lane. You don’t want to be seen as a mean oppressor…but rules are rules.

The uniform is breezy

Who else gets to wear shorts, t-shirts and flip flops to work everyday? That being said, the 29 degree heat means you have to stay uncovered; or someone will have to fish you out of the pool.

The heat is unbearable

Not that any of us EVER come to work hungover… the 30 degree heat may mean you fall asleep in that plastic, uncomfortable chair. Boob and bum sweat is a real and terrible thing.

You rarely jump in

On a serious note, lifeguarding is for saving lives. However, for the thousands of swimmers you see in a year, you are unlikely to jump in 99.9% of the time. It makes for excellent people watching and is a good way for you to stay warm in winter.

The banter is wavy

Anything wrong in life or love, it is a guarantee that your fellow lifeguards will give advice. From your time in the office to your time changing at the lifeguard chair; there’s always time for your agony aunts to help.

Helping people is rewarding

As much as it can be annoying telling the same child off a few hundred times, the feeling when you can actually help someone is fulfilling. That one time you jumped in to save a swimmer with cramp made you a hero; and it made all of those monthly training sessions worth it.

There are fit people swimming

Nothing is better than when the university or county swimming team come in. Fit bodies, and an excuse to watch without looking like a stalker.

When you look people in the eye and they think you’re weird

Well, sometimes people do think you’re stalking them. It’s hard to focus all the time and sometimes you get stuck thinking about the chicken curry you’ll eat for dinner. Sorry to the random grandma who think you’re eyeing her up though.

The course will make you fit, and QUICK

You do 6 lengths before every activity. Three hours in the pool daily. Timed swims. No more clarification needed. After your NPLQ you’ll be feeling as tanned and toned (ok maybe a bit red from all the chlorine) as if you’d been to Greece.

You’ll go as a lifeguard every Halloween

It’s easy and you already have the costume. Plus it’s an excuse to strip-off, right?

When someone can’t swim and won’t get lessons

You love the tenacity. Perseverance is important. However, bad technique and doing breathing exercises underwater just makes us think someone is drowning. Very stressful.

Blowing your whistle

Worth it for the novelty value. Sometimes it can be fun when you tell people off.

Watching a gala and choosing your favourite to win

Maybe this one is just me. Whenever there’s a gala you root for your random selected favourite to win. It passes the time.

Being able to pass an hour in the most creative ways possible

You’ll clean up, or you’ll scan in a zig zag that will make you dizzy. Maybe you’ll think about the party at the end of the week or decide what to wear for your date with the other lifeguard on shift. One things for sure in lifeguarding, you find a way to pass time in the end.

There will always be urine in the pool

Or something worse. Enough said.

When someone tells you it’s not a real job

It is. You know it’s the best job ever. Watching water, helping others and sometimes getting a tan to go along with it makes it all worth it.

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St Andrews