Pool Tips from the Lifeguard’s Chair

When temperatures soar, do you enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the area’s cool pools? While you’re there, you might see Montclair lifeguard, Ava Jordan. This is the third summer Jordan has watched over swimmers and sun worshippers from an elevated, shaded perch at Mountainside Pool. The Montclair High School grad, who plans to attend the University of Vermont in the fall, is satisfied with her summer gig. The hours are good, she’s around people who are enjoying themselves, and she gets to soak up the sun. “It’s definitely better than an office job,” says Jordan.

Here are a few things that Ava and her guard buddies would like you and your kids to know before heading to one of the area’s swimming holes:

  • Parents, please don’t just dump your kids at the pool. The lifeguards are not your baby sitters. They have to watch all the kids, not just yours.
  • If your kids can’t swim, they shouldn’t be in the deep end—that includes on the wide stairs at Mountainside Pool, where many non-swimmers tend to congregate.
  • Kids, please don’t run, do flips into the pool, or engage in aggressive horseplay. You could end up like one of the numerous swimmers each year who bang their heads on the side of the pool, or bloody their knees when they slip and fall on the concrete. Ouch!
  • The pools don’t have WIFI—free or otherwise.
  • The lifeguards aren’t weather forecasters. “You wouldn’t believe how many people call and say something like, ‘What do you think the weather will be like at 5pm?’” says Jordan.
  • Of course, the pools close when it’s raining. Also, just so you know…some pools, including Mountainside, don’t reopen until 30 minutes after the rain, thunder or lightning stops.

Oh, and whoever sneaked in one night last summer and threw all the lounge chairs into the water—please don’t do that again. Ava arrived the next day to find all forty-plus chairs sitting on the bottom of the pool, as if silently waiting for a band of mermaids who might need to take a load off. Poor Ava had to remove them all, by herself.

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  1. Well done, Ava. I would also like to add, please don’t congregate around the pool ladders or stairs to chat, thereby blocking the way. That is all. Happy swimming!

  2. Thanks Ava and all the life guards, who like most folks who “on the job”, risk their lives for us.

  3. I applaud Ava and all of the other young people who do a good, and tough, job at the pools.

    But really prof… “risking their lives for us”? At the Mountainside Pool?

  4. Cro, have you seen those little kids? (The little prof is a daily visitor). So YES– RISKING their lives.

    Jokes aside, if you’ve ever seen someone drowning and how violent it can be to get him or her out of the water, in those moments, the risks of being pulled under, hit on the head or otherwise injured is certainly there.

    So while you might have this as an imagine of the life guard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9UPh7KKyfs

    Some of us know better.

  5. I spent most of the summer when I was 16 preparing for and then passing the Canadian test for the ‘Bronze Medallion’ which is the equivalent to US ‘Senior Lifesaving’. It was an arduous physical challenge, with an emphasis on ‘reaching assists’, because the last thing a lifeguard wants to do is to swim out to a victim with no reaching assist and attempt to swim them to safety. We spent many hours practicing different ways to break holds, kind of like Judo in the water, to be used if a victim managed to get a hold on you. The point that was always on top was for the lifeguard to protect their own lives at all costs and all the techniques for doing so. Whew!

  6. Indeed prof, some of us DO know better.

    I’d venture to say that I’ve spent at least as much time as you have at public pools, with more than just one kid. Never have I seen a lifeguard in a situation wherein THEIR lives were at risk.

    Its a tough job and a big responsibility, but they are certainly NOT putting their lives at risk. At Jones Beach, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, certainly. At Mountainside Park, you’re crazy.

  7. I would love to visit the pool on a frequent basis. Unfortunately, I live in Bloomfield and we don’t have a public swimming pool. Any suggestions? (Other than the Y, the beach, my bathtub, a garden hose, neighbor’s kiddie pool, or sitting in the rain.)

  8. Sorry cro,

    Fortunately, my estate offers 35k gallons of fun. The little one goes with his camp. I just take a few steps and, jump in. So, no I’ve never been other than what I remember as a kid, what I’ve seen and heard.

    But here, you’re right. Life guards at public pools do not put their lives in danger. Nope. Not at all. Pulling a drowning victim up as I wrote above, has no danger with it. Hell a public pool lifeguard only really has to worry about SPF, and looking good in the uniform. Oh, right, and perhaps stubbing a toe, what with all the barefoot walking around.

    Really, a public pool life guard is in no more danger of his or her life than say, a public school teacher. No danger there, right…

  9. I’m sorry. We disagree, that’s all.

    Perhaps I’ll have you over to the Estate… Or see you at Mountainside Pool.

  10. Plenty more danger in the schools. Its a ridiculous comparison.

    Pulling a victim from a pool, with several other guards standing by, is stressful and difficult. Life-threatening? No. Or maybe I’ve just missed all of those funerals for lifeguards lost at “sea” in the Y.

    Far more dangerous, from what I read, to be trapped in a corner at the 466 Club in West Orange by a pack of cougars.

  11. And by the way, I’d be DELIGHTED to join you and the family at the estate. I’m not sure that I have the proper wardrobe, however.

    I’ll not see you at Mountainside, though. Too many people. I prefer ocean swimming or pools less frequented by the hoi polloi.

    As Rick Santorum would say, I’m a snob.

  12. While I love pool swimming, I know I’m always in danger of the pee from the little kids. Oh, do save me, lifeguards.

  13. Ive seen lifeguards at the Nishuane pool & the Essex pool TEXTING while in the chair. The lack of supervision of the lifeguards is what is shocking.

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