Many years ago, I was a lifeguard. My nickname among my friends was Spider.
I worked at a waterpark in Houston, TX. We were the best Lifeguard Team in Texas. We won the State Lifeguarding Championship for 9 straight years and I was on that team.
During those 9 years, I did many different things on the team. Mostly, I was a Ring Buoy Specialist, but I also competed in the Backboarding Event and some years I took the written tests.
I mention all of the above to set the tone for this article. As I stated, we were the best in our industry. But this story is about the Super Guard Competition that is held in College Station every summer.
We won the State titles as a team, but the Super Guard competition is a solo event to find the best one guard in the state of Texas.
Each year, we took our best swimmers to compete in this event. One year, I decided to go just to enjoy a few days off from the waterpark.
Six Flags had just got a brand new 15 passenger van and we used it to bring everyone to College Station for the competition.
We were drinking before we even got off of Six Flags property.
I wasn’t competing. I was just along for the fun of a road trip, so I was blissfully drinking myself drunk.
When we arrived in College Station, we got our hotel room, ate and went to the Dixie Chicken for drinks that night.
One time, while I was standing at a very crowded bar waiting to get a drink, two guys behind me handed me some money and asked me to order a pitcher of beer for them. I was next so it was no big deal to order their pitcher of beer and hand it over the crowd to them. I did this and never saw these two guys again the rest of the night.
We met up with some girls that had worked at the waterpark with us, but were now in College Station attending Texas A&M University. We had a good time drinking and laughing at the Dixie Chicken that night.
When we got back to our hotel, myself and one of the girls stayed in the van drinking and talking. I won’t mention what we were doing, but we had some illegal party favors and stayed up all night talking, laughing and drinking hot Schaeffer beers.
When the sun came up, I realized we had stayed up all night long in that van. Oh, and we also had sex in the brand new Six Flags van too, lol.
We left the van when the sun came up and went into the hotel to wake the others for the Super Guard competition. Man was I still fucked up from drinking and partying all night with no sleep.
When we get to the SuperGuard competition my boss then tells me that I have to compete in the competition. I was shocked.
He knew what I had done the night before and still he insisted that I compete. It was now later in the morning and I was hitting the wall and needed sleep.
No matter how much I pleaded, my boss still made me sign up for the competition. He kept telling me that if I didn’t compete he’d tell our big boss that I just came on the trip to goof off and get away from work at the waterpark. It was the truth, but I didn’t want my big boss to know that, so I reluctantly readied myself for the competition.
The competition tests a lifeguard’s swimming ability after the written test. They put you in a drag suit and then have you compete in timed swimming events. A drag suit catches water as you swim and makes it much more difficult to move through the water.
After just the first swimming event, I was dying. After each swimming event, I go and sprawl out on the grass and try to rest before they called me up again. The girls from the night before came out to watch and they were beer bonging right next to me. They were enjoying how exhausted I was getting. Everyone seemed to enjoy the fact that this event was killing me physically. And besides the physical demands of the event, I had the worst hangover and was operating on no sleep.
My boss loved seeing me struggle and I kept begging for him to let me quit. He’d just laugh and tell me no.
At one point during the competition, each lifeguard has to swim out and bring a victim back to the side of the pool. A judge plays the role of the victim and it’s a timed event.
There were over 70 male competitors and then there were all of the female competitors.
I tell you the number of competitors for a reason.
Each lifeguard was starting their timed rescue by yelling “Active victim, stand by” then blowing their whistles very loudly. This was standard practice in the Red Cross Lifeguarding manual at the time.
You can imagine how annoying it was to me, who was trying to sleep in between my events. Every few seconds another person was screaming at the top of their lungs, “Active Victim, Stand By!!!”. It was driving me crazy and I couldn’t sleep because of it.
I decided I was going to do something about it. Maybe I couldn’t get them to stop, but I’d show my contempt for this event.
I told my boss that I wanted to do something and he said go ahead. I told a fellow lifeguard to follow my lead.
When my turn comes to go out and rescue the judge, I yell as loudly as I could, “CHET, I’VE GOT A LIVE ONE, COVER MY ASS!!!”, then I jump in to go get the judge.
Chet runs up to the side of the pool and acts as my backup.
One of the judges knew us from having worked as a consultant at our waterpark. He started laughing so hard he almost fell in the pool. I heard later that he got scolded for laughing at our antics.
At one point, I was staggering around and I ran into these two guys. They were the ones I bought the pitcher of beer for. They were competing also. They told me that they each got MIP tickets the night before for the pitcher of beer. An MIP ticket means “Minor in Possession”. They were underage and drinking in a bar and got caught. We all had a good laugh and as they walked away, I heard one say to the other, “Chet, cover my ass!”, and then they both laughed.
By now, I look like hell and feel like it. I hadn’t eaten since the night before and was still going on no sleep. The girls watching the event with us tried to offer me some beers, but I was so hungover that would have made me sick on the spot.
I finished the competition, but I don’t know how I did it. My times were not good enough to make it into the finals and for that I was very thankful. I hit the grass and tried to get some much needed rest.
Later, when the scores were announced for the written test part of the competition, I scored a perfect 100 and received a Blue Ribbon.
I never competed in another Super Guard competition again, although I made the trips to watch the event.
I’ll always remember christening the new company van with Jennifer, leaving my mark on the Super Guard competition with my “Cover my ass” line and winning a Blue Ribbon in the written test.
I had some great times as a lifeguard and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And looking back on the Super Guard competition, I’m glad Pat didn’t let me quit the event. I was dead tired but it made for a great story.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my pain, lol.