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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Lifeguarding not just fun in the sun

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Lifeguard Kayla Medley, left, works with a swimmer while giving lessons.
SIKESTON -- When people think of lifeguards they imagine a tanned person, wearing sun glasses watching over people swimming. But lifeguarding is more than just fun in the sun, requiring a intense certification course while often times working long hours.

"It is not really that hard of a job but it is challenging at the same time because there is so much responsibility and so much weighing on what you are in charge of," said Kayla Medley who is in her fifth year as a lifeguard and currently serving as a pool manager at the Sikeston Jaycee Swimming Pool. "Especially being a pool manager, when there is an emergency we're the ones they call to do all the first aid and it gets your adrenaline going. "

Not anyone can be a lifeguard as each must have their lifeguard certification. The lifeguards at the Jaycee pool and the Sikeston Country Club swimming pool all have their American Red Cross lifeguard certification.

"The training is really tough," Medley said. "You have to swim 20 laps automatically the first day using different strokes and if you don't cut it that first day you can't go through the training."

Those who can swim the 20 laps then receive training in how to recognize and prevent injuries, land and water rescue skills, first aid, dealing with people around the water and other necessary lifeguarding tools.

"I was a little surprised at how extensive it was," said Hallie Lambert, who is in her first year as a lifeguard at the Sikeston Country Club. "I didn't think it was going to be as hard as it was."

Medley said one of the most difficult things was retrieving a brick from 13 feet of water. "You have go down and get it off the bottom then hold it over your head with both arms and swim to the top," Medley said. "I've been swimming since I was 10-years-old and that was tough."

While the training is tough, the hours can sometimes be long when sitting out in the heat.

"It gets really, really hot when you have to sit in the sun all day," said Lindsey Leible, a lifeguard at the Sikeston Country Club.

"The sun can wear you out when you are in it all day," Medley said. "Our pool hours start at 6:15 a.m. and can run until 8:30 at night and there is always a manager here."

Being a lifeguard also entails more than just watching over people swim. Leible said that the first thing she does when arriving at the pool is to vacuum the bottom and then skim the top to get bugs and leaves out. Most lifeguards also give swim lessons.

"I've been teaching swim lessons for more than five years and I have also been a coach on the swim team," Medley said. "I've taught everyone from 3-years-old to 16-years-old."

All of the lifeguards agreed that they liked their job though.

"I like to interact with the little kids and make sure the kids are safe," said Claire Showmaker, lifeguard at the Jaycee pool.

And don't forget the sun.

"Being a lifeguard has good hours and you can get a good tan," Leible smiled.