Vermont’s oldest lifeguard

I’m now officially certified as a lifeguard by the Red Cross. apparently this sort of thing runs in my family. My Dad was a lifeguard and so was my grandfather (on my Mom’s side). I explain more about the story with the accompanying Flickr photo but here’s how my week went.

I had class from 4-9 pm each night Monday through Friday. Most nights we were done by 8 but some nights we weren’t. The other students in my class were three VTC students, one high school kid, one other guy from the community about my age and two lifeguards who were training to be lifeguard instructors. The instructors were two no-nonsense women sent by the Red Cross. We split the classes up between watching Red Cross videos, going over and practicing first aid, and going over and practicing drowning and rescuing. Then we’d have tests on these things culminating in an all-day testing situation on Saturday from about 9 til 1.

I do good on tests. I have an okay head for numbers and first aid mnemonics. I am a strong swimmer. What I am NOT any good at… is drowning. Part of the class involves pairing up with other students (the female instructors make sure the women in the class are teamed up with the guys because they want to make sure the guys get used to grabbing women in rescue situations where usually they’d be more like “um, excuse me”) and practicing rescuing each other. In most ways in the class I felt like I was holding my own as a (relative to the rest of the class) old lady, but I was the worst drowner of them all.

I could tell myself it’s because I have asthma and I’m not good at holding my breath or whatever but the truth is that waiting under six feet of water for some high school student to drag me to the surface when I KNOW there are better options is just not something I’m good at. I was sort of happy with myself for being able to just suck it up and do it. As I get older, there are fewer and fewer situations where I need to suck it up to do anything or accomplish anything. I’ve sort of created my life this way and overall I’m pleased with that. However it was nice to know that for a good reason, I could suck it up and just take orders in order to learn things.

Every night after Monday I came home sore and every day I’d take ibuprofen and drag my ass back to the pool and do more practice rescues and swimming and tests. It’s not like 30+ hours of class is all that grueling, but I think they normally break it up over a few weeks. By Saturday morning I was feeling feverish and just out of it, but I made it through the tests okay — as did everyone, I think the goal is for everyone to finish up cerified (certifiable?) — and I came home afterwards, popped in to a friend’s house to say hello and then went home and slept for almost twelve hours. I woke up today feeling much better — even went for a little hike — and didn’t even think about going to the pool. Normal swimming will resume on Tuesday.

What do you think?


  1. Congratulations! I can’t swim at all so lifeguards are important.

    (I wanted to tell you, I had a dream a month ago that you were like Nancy Drew and I was your sidekick and we’d investigate murders and do library research and crawl on roofs and cool stuff. Great dream.)