3rd Annual Aquatic Conference

Over President’s Day Weekend, my organization hosted it’s third annual aquatics conference at Mercer County Community College. This has been a tradition for my organization, where we train community members and businesses in various Red Cross Aquatics courses. This year we offered three levels of training:

  1. Blended Learning Lifeguard Training R.2017
  2. Lifeguard Instructor Training R.2017
  3. Lifeguard Instructor/Instructor Training Review Course R.2017

It was an amazing weekend getting to work with various professionals, college students, and high school students to prepare them for the upcoming summer season. I want to congratulate everyone on their hard work and determination in completing their courses, even during a snowy weekend where the roads were slippery. These guys did not care, as they wanted to complete their training. I highly recommend taking your Red Cross training courses with us because we offer great instructor to participant ratios where individuals get individual training from our high quality trained instructors. Even more so, I highly recommend current and new lifeguard training instructors/ instructor trainers to take their review course with us. During our instructor/instructor trainer review course, you will have the opportunity to meet with our instructor trainers, go over important updates regarding course administration guidelines, preferred standardized teaching practices, practice and polish skills, and network with other instructors around the tristate area. The instructors at first were nervous and unsure of what to expect, but once the climate was set, everyone opened up and was willing to share ideas and strategies to teach our lifeguard training programs consistently and with integrity.

We have posted our spring lifeguard training course schedule, and we are currently working on administering another instructor level course for those interested in training new lifeguards. Customers have already begun to enroll for their classes so they can complete their online course work. The instructors will be going through an in-service training at the end of April to make sure that our May and June classes run smoothly. If you have questions about our aquatics training program, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Bowerland FL School Shooting

I want to wish all of the students, faculty, administration, and their families who are part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School nothing but prayers and positive energy. I can not imagine what all of you had to endure today. For those who lost friends, family members, teachers, etc. Condolences to you, your families, and loved ones. To Sheriff Israel, I am so proud and thankful of how you handled all of the communication today with the reporters. Sheriff Israel, you were professional, clear, and able to hold yourself together. You also displayed patience when reporters were asking you questions, so audiences around the country can understand what was going on. More importantly, you treated the children and possible staff members with dignity and respect.

I myself am a school teacher. I love what I do, I love who I work for, I also love my colleagues, and most importantly the students that I teach. We go over how to respond if there is an active shooter inside and outside the building, but as these teachers and students said on the news, it is a much different story when you face an active shooter in real life. Furthermore, it saddens me to know that our children have to see friends and teachers wounded, screaming for help, crying, or even having to question whether or not this might be their last day. School is supposed to be a place where you learn who you are. I do not know what the right answer is, other than to tell an adult if you hear anything that can jeopardize your safety as well as others.

Moreover, I want to compliment the bravery of the students who used their phones and social media accounts to let the police, reporters, your friends, and family know whether you were okay, or if someone needed help. The video of the students sitting in the classroom while gun shots were going off was absolutely terrifying and disturbing to watch.

I condemn the actions of the School shooter today, and hope that justice prevails for the students, faculty, administrators, and their families to bring closure. I hope that our nation comes up with strict gun laws that prevent the wrong people from getting their hands on these weapons. One of the students said that in order to heal “we need to not be divided, and show empathy towards others.” This student could not be more correct. We need to remember that there are others who are having more trouble. Even more so, we need to just stop and listen. I ask everyone to reflect on what this student said, and follow the news to stay informed!

Single guard facilities

My child just got offered their first job, but it is at a single guard facility. Is this a good idea?

This is strictly my opinion. I have been in the field of aquatics just shy of fifteen years. I have guarded at facilities that had more than one lifeguard on the stand, and at facilities where it was me by myself. My personal and professional opinion are the same in this matter. No, it is not safe to guard at single guard facilities for the following reasons:

  1. If there is a spinal injury in the water, either you will have to train a non certified lifeguard to help you, or you will be handling the emergency by yourself.
  2. In today’s world, there are people who do inappropriate things. Many times, it is a kid who is being asked to manage a whole facility of adults who do not follow the rules. This scenario can become stressful and burn out a new Lifeguard on the job. With emergency situations or when trying to professionally handle inappropriate behavior, it is always best to have a colleague as a witness for legal reasons.
  3. There is no adult supervision of the lifeguard. We are back to the point of no help. Most commercial pool companies have trained managers and supervisors that visit the pool to check on the guards, but their day is filled with visiting all of the Pools and making sure that each pool is blue.
  4. It is very difficult when you have to use the bathroom. Many guards are comfortable notifying patrons that nature calls, but do not enforce the rules where patrons need to clear the pool because the guard can not see patrons in the water when they are using the restroom. Why do guards not enforce this very important safety procedure? They feel embarrassed or silly asking the patrons to do this. They also feel that they will upset the guests and get into trouble. There are ways to rectify this issue, but property management, pool management, and the guards have to be consistent with the resolution.
  5. It is sometimes difficult for a guard to get a break. Research suggests that lifeguards should be on a given stand for no more than 30 minutes, and than be given the opportunity to rotate to another stand. This is to avoid fatigue as well as getting distracted. When a pool becomes busy, the guards can not move as their sole responsibility is to watch everyone swim, prevent injuries, and respond to life-threatening emergencies as soon as they arise.
  6. Multiple roles. I am the lifeguard, the gate guard, the resident pool cleaner, custodian, and pool managers! What a distraction and nuisance for guards. Lifeguards get trained in how to prevent and respond to aquatic emergencies. Multi-tasking is one of the RID factors that causes accidents.

Now, I managed to handle the job responsibilities of a single guard because I loved what I was doing. However, being in administration, I had more guards resign because they didn’t like the work environment they were in.

Why are there single guard facilities?

The simple answer is that the community does not usually want to pay for a second guard and the NJ bather code does not have a rule for the number of guards without a number of patrons factored in.

When should there be a second Lifeguard added to the mix?

My professional opinion- when there are more than 10 swimmers.

The code suggests that there only needs to be 1 guard for every 30 swimmers.

I highly recommend that New lifeguards work at multi guard facilities to get support and supervision from qualified adults.

How to choose your swim instructor/ Swim instruction program

It is the time of year where parents are looking for a swim program that will help their child learn how to swim. Learning how to swim is a very important life skill and it is a very healthy activity. I have over 15 years of experience of teaching swim lessons and overseeing swim instruction programs. Here is what I tell parents/guardians to ask when searching for a program or specific swim instructor:

  1. What swim program curriculum will be used to teach my child?
  2. Is your swim program researched based?
  3. How many years have you used the program, and what are other customers saying about your program?
  4. How do you monitor my child’s progress?
  5. How many years of experience do your swim instructors have?
  6. Do your swim instructors have experience working with the age group that my child falls into?
  7. What is the ratio of instructors to students in the class?
  8. What swim equipment do you have to help my child learn how to swim?
  9. Do your swim instructors hold a certification or are they trained in house by your program?
  10. Are your swim instructors lifeguard certified?
  11. What safety procedures do you have in place?
  12. Can parents sit on the deck to watch my child? ( Some programs will tell you they do not because they feel it impacts the student’s ability to learn. There is research that supports this)
  13. How long will each lesson last?
  14. Will the swim instructor be in the water modeling skills? (Some skills can be modeled on the deck, but an instructor should be in the water as much as possible).

I highly recommend that parents/guardians do their research about the program they are interested in. Read the reviews from google, yelp, Facebook, etc. Negative reviews do not always mean the program is horrible. Try to see if you can talk with the customer about their experience if no one is recommending the program to you. Please remember that in order for your child to make progress in their swim lessons it is recommended that lessons run at least 3-5 days for a minimum of 30 minutes for ages 3 and up. If you are not satisfied with the program that you are in, inform your child’s swim instructor and program manager. Immediate feedback from the customer will help meet your specific goals.