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Lifeguard classes set people on course for jobs

A lifeguard at a Fort Rucker facility watches a swimmer dive for the water during a previous swim season. (File photo)

A lifeguard at a Fort Rucker facility watches a swimmer dive for the water during a previous swim season. (File photo)

Published: March 21, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 21, 2014) -- The chill of winter is fading fast and many people are eager to hit the water, and Fort Rucker Aquatics is offering spring lifeguard courses for a job opportunity with high responsibility.

Fort Rucker Aquatics is offering lifeguard courses now through March 30 for people interested in learning a skill that they can take with them beyond the installation, according to Carolyn Hacker, assistant aquatics manager.

“A lifeguard isn’t there just to look good, they’re usually the first line of defense when it comes to the safety of patrons at the swimming facilities on Fort Rucker,” she said. “It only takes seconds for a person to go under the water and drown, and lifeguards are there to prevent those kinds of mishaps from happening – not only in the water, but around the water, as well.”

The courses encompass a total of 32 hours and are available as weekday courses or weekend courses. Weekday course durations are eight days within two weeks, and run Monday through Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and require participants to attend both weeks during the course. Weekend course durations are two weekends long, and run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

The Spring Break weekday course runs March 24-27, and weekend course days are March 22-23, and March 29-30.

American Red Cross certification requires that people be at least 15 years of age to become a certified lifeguard, and each course will begin with a prerequisite swim evaluation to make sure that each individual can perform the duties necessary, according to Hacker.

“Lifeguarding, Waterfront and Water Park course requires that people are able to swim 550 meters non-stop, utilizing two strokes – freestyle and breaststroke,” she said. “It requires some degree of physical fitness.”

The prerequisite swim also consists of a two-minute tread, timed brick retrieval and underwater swim retrieving three items, five yards apart.

“This is a good opportunity for those seeking summer jobs, and a lot of times, lifeguarding is the first job that a lot of high school students get. It’s a huge responsibility for them,” said the assistant aquatics manager. “The training that is required for lifeguarding is right there below the training required for (emergency medical technicians).”

Hacker said the responsibilities that come with lifeguarding often give people a sense of pride in what they do, and it’s a job where people learn to work well together because teamwork is essential.

“When lifeguarding, you don’t work solo, you work with other members on your team,” she said. “When responding to an emergency, lifeguards may get the person out of the water by themselves, but they are part of a chain and they are just the first step — the first responder to saving a person’s life in that situation.”

Although Fort Rucker allows lifeguards to start at 15 years of age, the installation requires that lifeguards at certain stations be at least 16 years old due to visibility limitations. Regardless of age, Hacker said that safety is the first and most important aspect.

“We’re pretty strict on how many guards are posted at our facilities,” she said. “A lot of times you get people who aren’t familiar with water and that doesn’t mix well, but that’s why we want to offer the safest (swimming) facilities possible.”

This article was originally published at

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