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.