Lifeguard hopefuls take the plunge

Lifeguard candidates take a swimming test.

Story and photos by Reid Tokeshi

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Morale, Welfare and Recreation

Can you swim 300 yards? How about 20 yards on your back while keeping a 10-pound brick dry? Job candidates needed more than a resume to apply for Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s (MWR) Aquatics department.

Lifeguard hopefuls ages 15 to 50 swam for a job during the second Lifeguard Hiring Day for MWR’s Aquatics department at Hickam Family Pool, Aug. 5.

The staff plans to fill 10 open positions in their department. The first step is to conduct a series of swimming tests.

Lifeguard candidates were asked to carry a 10-pound brick as part of a swimming test.

“They come in and do the water skills test first,” said Aquatics manager Johnnie Murray-Scheidt. “If they pass that, then they come to see me for a quick interview. If they pass that, then they head to HR (human resources).”

She said doing this helps speed up the process for both applicants and the department.

Those who pass the test are conditionally hired and will take a two-week lifeguarding class to further determine who gets to become a lifeguard for MWR pools.

Murray-Scheidt described lifeguarding as a fun job.

“You get the experience of being a lifeguard,” she said. “You learn CPR, first aid (and) how to be a first responder to incidents.

At the same time, being a lifeguard teaches responsibility, especially for the many teenagers who work at the pool during the summer.

“We are responsible for people’s lives, so it’s a pretty serious job,” she said.

Lifeguards monitor lifeguard candidates during a swim test, Aug. 5.

Jordan DeLaura, one of the lead lifeguards, detailed the test. First up was an untimed 300-yard swim. Next, candidates were asked to tread water for two minutes without using arms. Lastly, candidates were required to dive and retrieve a 10-pound brick from the bottom of the pool then swim 20 yards on their back while keeping the brick out of the water. The third part proved to be most difficult.

“A lot of people assume it’s easy because you can carry 10 pounds very easily on land,” DeLaura said. “But when you’re in the water, keeping 10 pounds out of the water can feel a lot like 50.”

DeLaura said the hiring day has been very helpful, noting that the Aquatics program picked up several guards from the first one in 2017. “One of them became a lead lifeguard, and two hired as flex worked their way to a part-time position.”

He said they’re hoping to get the same outcome. Murray-Scheidt said they plan on doing a lifeguard hiring day every year, probably in early May.

“By the beginning of May most of the kids are coming back from the mainland,” she said.

“The summertime is when I need more staff. There are swim lessons, programming and more pools are open.”

She added they will hold lifeguard classes and water safety instructor classes before the next hiring day as well as several times throughout the year.

There is a fee for these classes but DeLaura said there is an advantage to having already completed the class. The Aquatics staff would still need to test applicants in water and lifeguard skills, but “once you pass that it’s even better for you because we can offer you a job right there.”

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Category: Life & Leisure