Today, I spent most of the day in class at the J.  We ended up with 6 students for the class.  We’ll meet a total of 4 Sundays.

For the first half of the class, we spent time in a conference room.  We covered things like:

  • introductions and schedule
  • what it means to be a professional lifeguard
  • making decisions using the FIND method (figure out the problem, identify solutions, pros and cons, decide on best and act)
  • legal things to consider
  • continuing ed
  • EAP (facility specific emergency action plans)
  • rescue equipment
  • surveillance and scanning
  • victim recognition
  • communication with patrons
  • preventing injuries
  • incident reports
  • water rescue skills

After a series of videos and discussion, we broke for a break and met back up in the pool.  Next on the agenda was our prerequisite tests and rescue skills.

As we gathered at the pool and space was available, we began to swim our 300 yards.  Our instructor Lyle asked for 1/2 crawl and 1/2 breaststroke.  This would be 6 lengths of each.  I almost panicked since the official prerequisites call for either stroke and I had only practiced the crawl.  Lyle said it was ok and I told him that I’d be working on my breaststroke.  Since I had practiced, the distance (without stopping) was no problem.  Most of the class didn’t have any trouble.  I think one person needs to work on it a bit, but he hadn’t swam since summer.

Next up was treading water.  We had to tread without using our arms for 2 minutes.  It looked easy for everyone.

Lastly, was the test where we needed to swim almost a length, dive for the brick, retrieve it and swam to back to the shallow end on our back.  It ends with getting out of the water without use of the ladder.  I really don’t know how everyone did.  Personally, I made it back to the wall in 1:35, but it took me several tries to exit the pool.  So, I need to work on getting out a little faster and a speedier swim.  All in all, it was great for me especially since we had just swam 300 yards and treaded water.

Overall, I am happy with how I did with the prerequisites.  I’m going to work on the breaststroke and building up my endurance.  To be employed at the JCC, Lyle requires a 500 yard swim.  I want to make sure it’s not a problem.

After everyone completed the prerequisites, we started working on rescue skills.  We covered things such as:

  • entries (slide-in, stride jump, compact jump)
  • assists
  • rescuing near the surface, submerged and multiple victim

The only thing that really gave me trouble was the stride jump.  With a stride jump, your head is not supposed to go under water.  The purpose is to allow you to keep a visual on the victim.  My first jump, I hit the bottom of the pool.  I really felt a lot of impact in my left (bad) knee.  Ouch!  I was more surprised at first.  I made several other attempts during the class.  None of them were great, but I did feel some improvement toward the end of class.  I definitely need to practice this one.

With 6 of us in the class, the skills part went quickly and even with a break, we were able to leave a little bit early today.  I’m glad we have a small class.

Once I arrived at home, I felt exhausted, sore and famished.  I didn’t really count how many times we got in and out of the water and swam around, but it was lots.  Next week, I need to plan my food and liquids better.  The class is physically and mentally challenging.  It’s also exactly what I need right now.

I’m nervous about my knee and hope that spinning tomorrow feels great.  I’m scheduled to practice swimming Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week.  Here’s to a great week!


Today, I had my second lesson with Tabitha, my swimming instructor.  Last week, we spent the session on the different strokes.  This week, I wanted to concentrate on the prerequisites for the lifeguarding course.  My class starts on Sunday.  During the first class, I’ll have to swim 300 yards continuously, tread water for 2 minutes without using hands,and complete a timed event.  The timed event includes swimming 20 yards, diving down for a brick, retrieving it, then swimming on my back with the brick on my front back to the starting end of the pool.  The timed event ends with getting out of the pool without using the ladder or ramp.

I had never tried to dive for the brick before.  I was confident that I would be able to do this task, but knew that I needed some advice and practice.  Tabitha is great and I was able to watch her get the brick several times and she guided me through it.  After trying many times, I was able to get the brick on more than one occasion.

Toward the end of the lesson, we decided to have me try the timed event.  I was able to swim down, dive and retrieve the brick and get back to the start on my back in 1 minute, 37 seconds.  We have 1 minute, 40 seconds to complete the event.  I was thrilled that I was able to retrieve the brick on the first try after swimming 20 yards.

It dawned on me that the time probably includes getting out of the pool.  I’ve never got out of the pool without using the ladder or ramp.  We practiced in the deep and shallow ends today.  At the very end of the lesson, I was able to put it together and get out of the pool!  I was psyched!

I’m hoping for a bit more practice time on Friday.  I mostly don’t want to embarrass myself on Sunday when I’m in the formal class.  I’m confident that as long as I can complete the prerequisites, my instructor will be able to teach me the other lifeguarding skills needed to get certified.

I’m excited and can’t wait for our first class!


When I was little, my family went to the local Knights of Columbus swim park.  It had a lake for swimming and wasn’t too far from home.  We’d go up there after dinner many nights a week during the summer.

At some point, my sister and I took swim lessons.  I took all of the classes.  I was 11 when I took the last class before lifeguarding.  Lifeguarding wasn’t available until you were 15 years old.  Ever since I was not old enough for the class, I’ve wanted to have a lifeguard certification.  I thought about it in college where the class would have counted for my physical education requirement, but it just never happened.

Let’s fast forward to last week.  While at the JCC, I saw the flyer that a lifeguarding class would be offered starting at the beginning of March.  Since I know the pool manager fairly well, I expressed some interest and trepidation about taking the class.  He was very encouraging.  I’ve reviewed the list of pre-requisites and have a couple of weeks to practice and get up to speed.  It’s been years since I have done any serious swimming.

Today, I began my quest.  I swam 300 years before my water aerobics class.  That equates to 12 lengths or 6 laps.  I did stop and take a couple of breaks, but I am confident that I can do it continuously when necessary for the test.

The next task is to be able to tread water for 2 minutes.  After taking Adam’s class last week, I am sure this one is no problem.  We played  basketball in the deep end without touching the bottom.  It was a lot longer than 2 minutes.  So, I suspect that won’t be a problem.

There is also a timed event where you swim from one end of the pool to the other, dive and get a brick and swim on your back to the starting end.  I’m going to practice this, but I suspect I’ll pass.

The last requisite is to be 15 years old by the end of the class.  I have that one covered by more than 25 years!

I’ll have much more to say as I continue the process.  For now, I’m happy to have a goal that is swimming related.