The post yesterday got me thinking about all the actual work that was involved in lifeguarding. There’s the obvious guarding part of the job, but lifeguards to so much more than just that.

At the two pools I’ve worked, there was a guard rotation. This meant that if I’m in the stand right now and for the next half hour, when I come off of the stand, all of the other guards will rotate through my position before I go back up. This usually meant being in the stand for an hour and down for at least another hour, if not two. What does a guard do when not in the stand?

The most enviable task a lifeguard has is to man the front desk. No lives are requiring your attention, you just have to take money for little kids wanting ice cream, sign in pool members, and answer the phone. It’s fantastical. You can socialize with your fellow guards and pool members a little more easily in this position. It’s where all lifeguards aspire to be as frequently as possible.

However, if there are six guards on duty, two on the stand and two at the desk, that leaves two guards who must find some way to occupy themselves. While a few minutes can be piddled away doing things like getting water or cooling off in the pool, you can never be too sure who is watching and you’ve eventually got to get busy. Here are some of the unenviable tasks that must be completed while a guard rotates through this position:

  • picking up other people’s trash, including, but not limited to: candy wrappers, dropped, melted candy pieces, empty cans, empty plastic cups, empty soda bottles, etc.
  • hosing off the deck. sometimes those sticky pieces of candy require hosing to be fully cleaned up.
  • testing chemicals – someone has to make sure chlorine and pH levels are balanced.
  • mopping the clubhouse floors. ugh.
  • taking out full trash bags. usually this task can wait until the end of the day, but if things are particularly busy, the trash cans tend to fill up pretty quickly.
  • cleaning bathrooms. double ugh.
  • this may sound ridiculous, but I guess someone has to do it – picking trash off of the parking lot. this task is only applicable if everything else has been done, and done twice.
  • cleaning the tiles in the pool. they tend to get grimy with sunscreen and dead skin and hair and dirt, etc every other day or so. this is a pretty enviable task since you get to stay in the pool while you’re doing it.
  • emptying the overflow baskets. there can be some crazy stuff in these, so watch out. you can run into frogs, hair clumps, hair ties, beetles, and any other imaginable sort of wildlife and ickiness.
  • running errands for the manager. this isn’t something that normally comes up, but if you’re lucky, you can snag the job when it comes available.

I think that covers the main chores that have to be done while you rotate off of the desk and the stand. Somebody’s got to be responsible for keeping the pool clean and running, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never found a community pool that had a full time janitor. If you are a lifeguard, your secondary job title is janitor. That’s just the way it works. Sorry guys!