Swimming Through Summer
By Emma Suttell
Although trips to the Anthem Community Center pool might look different this year, the 2020 Anthem lifeguard team—led by Scott Newell, the ACC’s aquatics manager—is stronger and more ready to take on the summer than ever before.
For dozens of students from Boulder Creek and surrounding schools, working as a lifeguard provides a summer job opportunity between school years. This year, 12 of the guards are recent graduates of Boulder Creek High School.
It’s clear that the guards love their workplace and their job—last year, the ACC had 80% of their guards return.
“This (return rate) is the highest in Anthem history because they enjoy the combination of energy, gun, teamwork and a little bit of stress,” Newell says.
Becoming a lifeguard is more difficult than one might guess. The extensive training regime paired with the ACC’s impressive five-star audit rating from SSGE Starguard ELITE—a lifeguard training program—makes it clear that there are high expectations for all of the guards.
Potential applicants must endure an annual certification training that consists of several physical tests that evaluate their swimming, rescue, and deep and shallow water skills. Starting with skill-based classes in the winter and spring, aspiring lifeguards must also pass a 100-question exam as well as a CPR and first-aid test.
“Lifeguarding in Anthem is similar to a team sport. We practice our skills every day to be ready for any scenario,” Newell says. “Building confidence and leadership skills is also something we strive for and (we have) a little bit of fun along the way.”
Last summer, Newell implemented weekly fitness and team-bonding events to bring the team together outside of the pool. Newell packed the impressive after-hours schedule full of team runs, hikes and the “Anthem Olympics,” an event made up of competitions in basketball, volleyball, water polo and, of course, swimming.
For many guards, the team hangouts quickly became their favorite part of the week.
“My favorite part of the job has been meeting and getting to know my coworkers,” says Anthony Caruso, a third-year guard and recent Boulder Creek High School graduate.
After competing with Boulder Creek’s varsity swim team, Caruso was already familiar with the pool environment at the ACC and wanted to get even more involved. Partnered with his desire to learn more about the medical field, Caruso found that working as a lifeguard would allow him to master some of the skills he would need for the future.
Boulder Creek High School graduate Grace Cooper is also in her third year of lifeguarding for the Anthem Community Center. A varsity member and co-captain of the Boulder Creek swim team, she had been looking forward to the chance to work in the water for years.
“It is definitely no secret that this is the type of job where you can’t slack off. When you’re on deck, you have to be on top of your game at all times or someone will get hurt,” Cooper says.
Cooper says even though the job can incur high levels of stress, the sense of community that the guards have makes it all worth it.
“Being a lifeguard is so much more than a summer job. Every year we hear stories of how people used the skills they learned in the off-season to help others,” Cooper says. “Sometimes it’s just customer service skills and other times it’s saving someone from choking or knowing what to do when someone has a heart attack. Being a lifeguard is something that sticks with you forever.”
Emma Suttell is a Boulder Creek High School graduate
who will attend Northwestern University this fall.
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