Up Before the Sun
Fitness & Aquatic Center
Every morning at 5am at least two student lifeguards report to the Fitness and Aquatic Center (FAC) to open the pool for swimmers. A hardworking crew of eight area high school and college students rotate and share opening duties, making it possible for FAC members to start their day with early morning aquatic exercise.
“This is a dependable group,” said Heather Otto, FAC Aquatics Manager, in referring to the morning lifeguards. “Without them we may not be able to be open at this hour of the day. Our members really appreciate all they do to make these early hours possible.”
The morning lifeguard crew includes: Elise Pahl, Bailey Newman, Jack Gilles, Hannah Seaton, Megan Maxa, Audrey Seurer, Leah Loftus and Piper Johnson.
When opening the facility in the morning, safety is their first priority. They start off the day going through safety checks and monitoring the pool chemicals. Once everything is in order, the lifeguards allow swimmers to enter the pool and they then start their surveillance duties. This, along with preparing the facility for fitness classes, keep them busy until their shift ends at 7am and they head off to class.
“At first, I thought I was crazy for getting up around 4:00 a.m. before school. But the morning crew I work with, and the crew that is guaranteed to be in the pool everyday makes it so worth it,” said lifeguard Megan Maxa, a junior at Tri-City United High School. “I like being able to get some work hours in before school and also have some time after school to do other activities. Everyone that comes into the pool in the morning is so friendly and respectful to the aquatic center staff, which makes it so much easier for the guards.”
On average, about 20 FAC members come to swim in the early morning hours. They are always greeted with a friendly smile and words of encouragement from the morning lifeguards. “The morning FAC members are some of the most polite and friendly people,” said New Prague High School Senior lifeguard Elise Pahl. “After working the mornings for a while, you start to know them and their patterns. It’s always a pleasure to share a wave and greeting with the regulars.”
“Kids sometimes get a bad rap for being lazy or not wanting to work,” said FAC member and morning swimmer Steve Cox. “But that is definitely not what I’ve seen here. These kids work hard and are dependable to open the FAC so we can get our morning workout in. We truly appreciate them!”
The FAC employs approx. 45 lifeguards and are always looking for more. Lifeguards must be certified which requires 20 hours of in person training, along with 7 hours of online training. After becoming certified they participate in an orientation and shadowing process to learn the FAC procedures. Pay ranges from $13-$17/hr. depending on experience. Morning shifts between the hours of 5:00 – 11:00 a.m. offer an extra $2/hr.
“We offer Red Cross Certification Courses throughout the year at a discounted rate for those applying to work here,” said Otto. “As an added bonus, we will now reimburse lifeguards for the training course fee after 6 months of working here.”
There is a certification class coming up in May. Detailed information about the course can be found on the New Prague Community Education website.
Lifeguarding is a very rewarding job. The specific skills learned in lifeguarding, like emergency response and first aid, are not only useful by the water, but can help in other fields as well. The general skills learned, such as teamwork, communication, responsibility and time management, will transfer to any other job or career field. These skills will give our student lifeguards a definite advantage when applying to colleges and starting their careers.
Lifeguards are the lifeblood of our Aquatic Center. Consider joining this crew to learn valuable skills that make a difference for so many!