Children First: Lifeguards - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Lifeguards

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It’s the perfect time for splashing in a KOTA Territory pool, and it’s nice to know trained men and women are watching over us from their lifeguard stands.

But the pressure of the lifeguard test keeps some people from applying, and many who do step up end up leaving after the summer.

On a sunny afternoon at the Rapid City Aquatic Center, Nick Outka and his team are practicing rescue techniques. “ We're constantly doing drills to keep them prepared,” said Outka.

Outka has been a lifeguard for seven years, and he has earned the title of manager, overseeing a crew of lifeguards at the center. “It gives me the ability to be a leader, and have those skills and a lot of my head guards get those skills too, and that helps with college and applying for other jobs,” said Outka.

Other jobs.

That’s kind of a problem with lifeguards across the country. Emily Carstensen, aquatic coordinator, says it can be hard to recruit lifeguards, since some people are intimidated by the test.  “Not everyone is interested in lifeguarding,” said Carstensen. “Not everyone can swim unfortunately, so it may seem harder to them.”

And then it’s hard to keep them forever. “Lots of kids just see it has a summer-time job, or when they're in school,” said Carstensen.

But the young adults who step up to save lives, learn valuable life lessons - like the obvious life-saving skills. But also how to communicate and be responsible, especially for teens working their first job. “Kids are so into their cell phones these days, and they really learn that you have to speak to people,” Carstensen. “They learned they need to enforce the rules – it’s a safety issue.”

So whether the lifeguard watching you is there for the summer, or for life, he or she is learning valuable lessons. “I use that when I apply to any other job,” said Outka. “A lot of employers will actually ask me about those skills.”

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