By Megan Nichole Broome
With the scorching summer heat gaining intensity, it’s no surprise that the cool, refreshing pool is the place to be. Parents in the Rome-Floyd community are taking advantage of the weather and enrolling their kids in swimming lessons, a very important lifesaving skill to know.
The Northside Swim Center provides classes that help kids ages 6 months and older learn different swimming techniques, while also teaching them the necessary safety precautions.
Kids come to class excited to learn about swim safety, cool off and make new friends.
Guardians of the water
Safety is a top priority at the Northside Swim Center and would not be possible without the diligent efforts of on-duty certified lifeguards. Lifeguards are the human life jackets for maintaining a safe and secure environment for kids splashing memories into the summer sun.
Due to the immense responsibility of maintaining a safe environment around water, intense preparation and training is required when becoming a lifeguard.Before taking the plunge as a certified lifeguard, trainees must first complete a pre-test to determine their potential in the field.
Part of this pre-test requires swimming across a pool to rescue a brick and swimming back with the brick in under two minutes. This exercise emphasizes the lifeguards strength and endurance in potentially difficult and time-constrained situations.
After pre-test lessons are complete, the trainees are ready for the classroom portion of lifeguard certification.
Dive into education
According to Pool Manager for Northside Swim Center Julie Sanford, Floyd County is home to one of the best teachers to certify lifeguards, Joey Powers.
Sanford explained that she receives all her lifeguards from Powers, as he provides the most thorough and intense training classes once a year in the area.
“[He] is the best you can get,” Sanford noted.
Powers teaches 14-hour classes that allow people 15 years and older to become Red Cross Certified Lifeguards. Part of the class is online, while the other part is applying the new knowledge and skillset in a practical setting.
Trainees learn vital skills to become efficient and prepared lifeguards such as rescue drowning, active drowning, performing CPR and even how to perform CPR while the victim is still in the water.
Certified Lifeguards are required to be able to recognize stroke victims, spinal injuries and swimmers in distress. They also have to know the Emergency Accident Plan for the facility they lifeguard for and how to quickly implement it in immediate situations.
Resources for survival
Red Cross Certified Lifeguards are issued a CPR mask and whistle when they become certified, and Northside requires they keep these with them at all times. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine and backboard are kept in the pool office at all times to stay prepared for a disaster.
Lifeguards at Northside are required to wear a bathing suit, but may wear a shirt and navy blue shorts over it, understanding that they must dive in the water with whatever they have on. So, it’s a good idea to keep the Michael Kors sunglasses and Chacos at home.
The job of a lifeguard is temporary and seasonal, with work ranging between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Although it is a short period of time, a lot of work goes into the protection of every member of the community.
No fish too small
Sanford described that she is proud to be the manager for Northside Swim Center because of the small-town atmosphere and variety of demographics represented in Rome and Floyd County.
This way, it is easy to get to know families that regularly come to the pool and get to know their personalities. If you understand their personalities, you can better determine whether a swimmer is in distress, Sanford explained. “Recognition is very important,” she added.This mindset represents a wonderful organization that cares for the community and always looks to the best interest of its people.
A common occurrence at the pool is when kids go into water over their heads. Luckily, Northside employs lifeguards who respond in a fast and efficient manner.
On the fish tails of experience
Certified Lifeguards at Northside explained why they chose to help people and save lives as a Guard.
Chelsea Laurel Steuart-Allister has been a lifeguard at the Northside Swim Center for five years and loves dedicating her time to teaching kids how to swim.
Steuart-Allister grew up around water, so swimming feels as natural to her as a fish. It only makes sense that she would teach kids who love water as much as she does, she added.
Lifeguard of two years Mamie Johnson explained that she loves swimming and teaching kids, so teaching kids to swim is a dream come true for her. She also mentioned she is a certified lifeguard for Darlington schools.
As for lifeguard Austin Linatoc, he grew up going the Northside Swim Center and felt his experience around water would be beneficial in helping kids learn to swim and keep them safe.
Open for summer fun
The pool at Northside Swim Center will continue to be open for open swim Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. until July 31 and August 6 through 27 on Saturdays only. The pool is also open on Labor Day.
Northside Swim Center is a great place for kids to stay cool in the hot summer and play with friends while also staying safe.
To learn more about Northside Swim Center, swim hours and how to register for next year’s swim lessons, visit the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation website at rfpra.com and stay cool during this blazing hot summer.