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"Oh, So You Do Nothing All day!" The Struggles of a Lifeguard

Updated on June 19, 2013

On Guard


Lifeguard Awareness

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There are two types of lifeguards at your local pool or waterfront. They can be easily identified by you, the public, by observing there behavior. Does the lifeguard look like he’s been sitting in the chair for three hours daydreaming about nothing other than jumping straight out of his chair, into his vehicle, and straight home? Or, on the other hand, does he look like what he’s supposed to be trained to look like, vigilant, sitting up straight, ready to jump into the water to save your kid who got in over his head, a little too deep into the pool?

It is very understandable that you may be reluctant trust all of the lifeguards at your local pool, especially if you observe that they look like Mr. DreamingAboutHisBed lifeguard. That doesn't mean that you have to take your frustration out on me! I promise you that I am, like more than 90% of the lifeguards at my pool, 100% concerned about the safety of your child. So, telling me that I’m not doing my job correctly or that you suggest I learn how to talk to people nicer because I may have raised my voice at your child because he was 50ft away from me running and at risk of hurting himself isn't appreciated.


At this point I have tried to raise two questions in your mind. One positive and one negative, namely, what do I do about the 10% of lifeguards who just want to get home and who aren't doing their jobs properly? And why would a lifeguard be so concerned about me and/or my child? All lifeguards were not created equal. In fact, the motives for choosing this profession aren't always the most noble of reasons.

Part of the stigma of being a lifeguard includes things such as having really ripped muscles or of being tan, but saying that all lifeguards are tan is the same as thinking all lifeguards are lazy. In other words, most lifeguards aren't lazy, but instead, thinking about your safety. So, what to do about lazy looking lifeguards that just want to go home? There’s an easy way to make a lazy lifeguard more attentive, talk to his manager. If you’re a fellow lifeguard I understand that you’re probably mad at me for saying this but there is however, a proper and improper way to do this.

The improper way to do this would be to talk to the lifeguard like you know everything, tell him how to do his job, and then threaten to tell his manager if he doesn't conform to your standards. The first reason this is a bad idea is because no one likes to be told how to do their job. Honestly, how would you like someone who isn't qualified in your profession to come to your workplace, even if it is as cool as a water park, and tell you how to do your job? Second, if you go off on a lifeguard in a very vocal and irate way, the surrounding public and lifeguards will not perceive you as a concerned patron and/or parent. Instead, you will be viewed as an angry person who is only concerned in doing things their way.

The easier and more appreciated way to get a lazy lifeguard to do his job, or at least get sent home is as follows. Are you ready? Remember that people, especially mangers that have to deal with irate patrons, love it when you speak to them as a person talks to another person, as opposed to speaking like the hulk in a fit of rage (HULK SMASH!). So, with this in mind why not tell the manager that you are concerned about the competency of the lifeguard on the chair out there. That he seems to be daydreaming instead of paying attention to the people he is supposed to be watching. As a lifeguard let me tell you that there is nothing more intimidating than being replaced in your chair and being sent to a manager for an “emergency meeting” concerning your performance.

Easy Money

Life-guarding is a moderately noble profession. You are in effect helping people by responding to water based emergencies as well as trying to prevent as many injuries as possible. However, most people that become lifeguards don’t realize this, at least not a first, and that’s where the 10% of eternally lazy lifeguards come from. The typical “90er” (or lifeguard which I would consider not lazy) may have started with the intention of just getting a tan or making “easy money” or showing off his ripped muscles, but later realized that there is more to Life-guarding than just those things. Then we have our “10ers” (lazy lifeguards) who never realized how important being a lifeguard was, or at least forgot somehow.

Would it be reasonable to say that there’s no such thing as easy money? “Oh, so you do nothing all day?” This is a comment I received when telling someone about what I do for a job. “Um, no I replied.” In retrospect I should have said more to that person instead of changing the conversation. Think about this, in your job does the measure of how well you performed your duty depend on the lives of other people. In my job, if I don’t do my job to the best of my ability and training someone could die. Not only do I have to deal with losing my job and causing myself and my company many legal hardships, but I also have to live the rest of my life with the death of someone on my shoulders.

If you ever see a lazy looking 10er I suggest you tell the manager about it. Realize that most of the lifeguards at the pool you’re attending are supremely concerned about the safety of you and your entire family. We have spent much time training and taking all steps possible to ensure your pleasure and safety. In reality if it wasn't for you we wouldn't have a job. Yes, I do actually do something all day, I carry the value of your life on my shoulders because I am lifeguard; I’m here to keep you safe.


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    • profile image

      Eleemosynary 2 years ago

      A lifeguard saved my life this summer, and for that I will be eternally grateful

    • profile image

      JOEFLA 4 years ago

      Thank you for posting this article,

      as a "Professional Lifeguard" I truly appreciate it.

    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 4 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      Thank you: Too many of us vastly under-appreciate lifeguards, firemen, and others who keep us safe. Keep doing a good job - I do appreciate it!

    • profile image

      Rebecca Wear Robinson 4 years ago

      Awesome article - I definitely support you and your fellow dedicated lifeguards!

    • StanTheLifeguard profile image

      Stan Castillo 4 years ago from Eastern Washington

      Thank you very much for your support, it really means a great deal to me.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 4 years ago from USA

      Stan ( StanTheLifeguard) =

      Lifeguarding when yet a student makes for a good start. Writing that first "Hub" is perhaps not so physically taxing, but it is equally significant as a start on HubPages.

      Well written, this one. Enjoyed reading your writing here. Good fortune to you.

      Gus :-)))