In Praise of our Wonderful Lifeguards.

This morning during my daily swim I swam past a lifeguard in the water cleaning the pool bottom. This made me think more about what they do, so I thought I’d write a bit about our wonderful Lido Lifeguards. We all see the lifeguards around the pool every day, we exchange a cheery word, but do you ever think about the job they all do? Some of you may think they have a doddle of a job perched on their Lifeguard Observation Chairs, soaking up the sun, but have you ever given a thought to what their job really entails.

No… I Thought not….

Peterborough Lido employs approximately 30 lifeguards during the three month of the summer season. Some are regular but most are University Degree Students. You’ll be surprised to know they are not all doing a Sports Degree either. This year there’s a Trainee Doctor and a Mechanical Engineering student’ a young lad waiting to join the Armed Forces and a sixth form student waiting to go to University amongst the group. Some come from other pools and other jobs to earn a little extra. They work varying shift patterns according to what their other commitments are. 

All are very well trained. They must be over 16years old, able to jump/dive into deep water, swim 50 metres in less than 60 seconds, swim 100 metres continuously on front and back in deep water, tread water for 30 seconds, surface dive to the floor of the pool and climb out unaided without ladders or steps. They have to have a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, or NPLQ which they pay for themselves. Some have extra qualifications like the Emergency First Aid at Work certificate, An Automated External Defibrillation Certificate and the Management of Anaphylaxis certificate.

This year has seen an unusually prolonged spell of warm sunny weather, combined this with warmer water from the new boilers and that contributed to the highest attendance for many a decade. Those two factors alone bring the Lifeguards a significant problem.

So far this year our lifeguards have had  to do fifteen rescues, all successful, thank goodness. Three of them in one day  last weekend. This compares with just four for the whole of the last summer season. Many people just don’t hear or even heed the order to vacate and clear the pool. The pool needs vacating because the lifeguards need to be focused on the person or persons in trouble not watching the other swimmers. So if you see every one making to the pool edge and getting  out, but haven’t heard or realised why, don’t dawdle follow suite rapidly.

The sun brings other problems as well. Sunlight causes the pool floor to green up with algae. This needs constant attention by  a lifeguard in the pool with a special long-handled stiff brush loosening the algae so the filters can remove it. This is as well as the automated pool bottom cleaner.

Swimmers creaming themselves excessively with sun screen before they get in the  water cause problems too. The Lotion or cream causes the water to become cloudy and it leaves a scum along the pool edge. If the waters get too cloudy the pool has to close to allow the filters to work. The scum on the edges attracts dirt and needs a different approach. A lifeguard has to get in the pool to scrub all the edges with a special safe solution to clean it off.

Their jobs are many and varied from hauling handfuls of hair from the shower drains to cleaning toilets, showers, lockers and changing cubicles. Manning the entrance booth and dealing with the public fed up from queueing and anxious to get in plus crowd control of the sometimes lengthy queues. A Food hygiene certificate means helping out in the cafe at busy periods. Litter picking after families have gone home but left their rubbish behind. Skimming the kamikaze insect from the water surface. The early morning shift often have to deal with the debris left behind by the overnight trespassers who climb over the six-foot security fence surrounding to pool confines. Litter and  Lager cans in the changing rooms. Alcohol bottles and sometimes poolside furniture in the pool.

So have a thought for those stalwart Lads and Lassies sitting on their high viewing platforms, burning in the sun, or shivering in the miserable rain or the cold winds. Their job’s not an easy one.  Give them a smile and a thank you because they do a great job.

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