While most people go to the pool to relax, lifeguards are there to help save lives. Lifeguards for the city of McKinney work at the Juanita Maxfield Aquatic Center, Old Settlers Aquatic Center and the McKinney Senior Pool to ensure everyone’s safety.
While on the clock, lifeguards usually spend about 15-45 minutes on stand and about 30-45minutes on break. There are over 50 guards are employed for the city of McKinney and they work an average of about 30 hours a week, with a max of 40.
“I like working so many hours a week because it brings in a nice paycheck,” Matt Barkis said. “I also love working for the city because the staff is awesome and we always have a lot of fun.”
Along with sitting in 100 degree heat drenched in sweat while keeping a close watch on the patrons at the pool, the guards have to make sure that they are hydrated and protected from the sun and knowing how many hours they spend outside you can only imagine how much sunscreen they use.
“I use more than most people because otherwise I burn,” Emily Neerings said. “I probably go through about a can of spray sunscreen every week or two.”
Lifeguards are required to know the proper way to make different types of saves for every possible scenario at the pool. These saves include actives, passives, and spinals.
“We have to make sure we know how to save actives, which are people that are actively drowning in the water, passives which are people that become unconscious in the water, and spinals which is when someone has severely hurt their spine jumping off the diving board or something like that and must be taken out of the pool carefully without injuring them anymore.” Zach Tekavec said. “It’s really scary because you don’t really think about stuff like that happening until you become a lifeguard.”
Becoming a lifeguard is a serious job and requires someone very responsible and attentive. Although they seem confident and they are all well trained, the guards are nervous too.
“My biggest fear is having someone die in a facility,” Emily said. “Realizing people can have serious accidents at the pool was a serious wake up call.”
All lifeguards are required by the state of Texas and the American Red Cross to attend an Inservice meeting once a week where they train and make sure their skills are still impeccable.
“Inservice is basically a weekly hour long training for all the lifeguards. The State of Texas requires all lifeguards to attend and if we miss 2 we’re taken off the schedule for safety reasons.” Emily said.” We do fitness like swimming laps and lunges, practice our skills, and do scenarios”
Lifeguards are more useful than most people realize and they are all very well trained for any possible scenario and the majority of the guards are between the ages of 16-23, these responsible young adults carry the lives of many patrons in their hands and deserve much more respect and recognition than they are given.
Story written by TSB teen beat writer Christine Baker, who also writes a weekly Teen Talk column.