Q&A: Lifeguarding During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This summer was unlike any other, and lifeguarding was no exception. With all the changes and alterations that businesses had to make to stay open, we couldn’t forget about the very people who made this summer possible: you!
That’s why we recently sat down with one of our exceptional lifeguards, Andrew Wake in Virginia. We spoke to Andrew during a socially distanced interview to discuss his experiences over the 2020 summer. Take a look!
Think back to early March 2020. Places and events were just beginning to shut down. Do you remember what you were doing at that time?
Andrew: In February I was working at pools on a military base in Leavenworth, Kansas. Then spring break happened, and my parents were in the middle of a move during that time. I loved lifeguarding at Fort Leavenworth, so I decided to go ahead and find a lifeguarding job here in northern Virginia.
Was there a typical routine or structure around your day, even with COVID?
Andrew: I worked at about 17 different pools this summer. But when I started to work at one pool a little more constantly, I was able to get into a routine that felt really typical and comfortable. I got to learn all about the pump room, and that was very interesting because I had just become a pool operator. I was doing everything an operator was doing, and that was just part of my regular day.
What was the most noticeable difference about lifeguarding this year compared to years past?
Andrew: Cleaning as often as we did and not having an adult swim period was different. Most of the pools I worked at were a lot cleaner because of the COVID protocols we took. We would clean every 15 minutes or when no one was in the pool; rubbing down handrails, for example.
Did you feel safe lifeguarding in 2020?
Andrew: I felt pretty safe. We always had hand sanitizer available whenever we needed to clean our hands, and PPE was always available.
Most pool guests were OK. Sometimes it got heated between guests because someone would cross a line that the pool put down to socially distance, so those would be situations where we had to de-escalate tensions. But most of the time, patrons listened. I think American Pool handled this very very well.
What did you enjoy most about lifeguarding this year?
Andrew: It felt nice to do what I love to do … I did enjoy being able to talk to other people. A lot of patrons were more talkative this season because of the [COVID] situation. They were just appreciative of being able to spend time at the pool and just have a normal summer.
Do you think you’ll be lifeguarding again next year?
Andrew: I still plan to lifeguard in the future because I’ll still have downtime and I like to earn extra money. But I would also say to my friends to do it because it’s a very fun experience and a very enjoyable job!
Even during a global pandemic, lifeguarding can be a safe and rewarding experience. So if you’re already thinking about your plans for next summer, consider applying to be a lifeguard.
We’d also love to hear from you! How was your lifeguarding experience in 2019? Let us know by participating in the conversation on our Facebook page, or send us an email!