There are lots of people who have been lifeguards in their lives and there are many lifeguarding today. It can be called somewhat of a noble profession because you protect people, reduce injuries and save lives.
I came to lifeguarding a little bit differently than most other people, if not all of them.
When I was a kid, I loved the community pool. I lived just down the street from it and every summer I practically lived at the park and in the pool.
There’s a movie called ‘The Sandlot’. In it, this group of young boys all adore the lifeguard at their pool. The movie producers chose a really attractive girl to play the role of the lifeguard, “Wendy Peffercorn”, that they were all in love with.
Anyway, one of the little boys decides he’s had enough of her teasing them with her sexiness.
He hatches a plan.
He goes off of the diving board and sinks to the bottom. He stays there until the lifeguard fears for his life and jumps in to save him.
She brings him to the side of the pool and begins administering mouth to mouth resuscitation on him.
Slowly, Squints, his name in the movie, starts to crack a smile. He had faked the whole thing just to touch lips with the cute lifeguard.
Squints got kicked out of the pool that day, but he was a hero to all of his friends. Nice move for Squints. I could only be so lucky.
If you’ve never seen the movie, you should try to watch it. It’s a classic about young boys and youth.
We had a sexy lifeguard that was prettier than the one in that movie. She was tall, blonde and with a great tan. It’s been many years, but I think her name was Sheree’.
Sheree’ was gorgeous and could have been a very successful model if she had wanted to do that.
One day, my friends and I are at the pool playing when someone gets the wise idea to go down and swim across the deep end. For young kids, this was a thrill.
I had taught myself how to swim and wasn’t a very strong swimmer at this age, but I went along with the other kids, even though I was a little scared.
We get down to the deep end of the pool and everybody jumps in and starts swimming across the pool, towards Sheree’.
I jump in at the back of the crowd and start swimming too.
Then another kid named Reed comes up behind me and starts pulling on my legs backwards. For a weak swimmer, this was too much. I began to drowned.
The next thing I remember is sitting by the side of the pool underneath Sheree’s lifeguard stand. I was drowning, blacked out and Sheree’ came in and saved me from dying.
I was in a little shock from the whole ordeal.
Fast forward to a few years later.
I was about 16 and still spending my summers in the park and at the pool. And Sheree’ still worked there.
One day, I heard about a lifeguarding class Sheree’ was going to teach. so I signed up. I was a much better swimmer now and felt confident I could pass the class. Having Sheree’ teach it was an added bonus.
I went through the class and did well.
I passed and got my lifeguarding certification card. I was now a certified lifeguard. Things were going to change for me from here on out. It was the beginning of my life, in a manner of speaking.
I worked some at the pool, but was never a full time lifeguard there. That job was wanted by a lot of people and I was never going to get it.
A few years pass, and one day I get a call from Sheree’s sister. She tells me that Sheree’ is now living in Houston and working at a waterpark that just opened.
Sherri’s sister goes on to tell me that Sheree’ wanted me to come and work there. I was over the moon with excitement. My sister already lived in Houston, so I was able to sleep on her couch during the summers as I worked at the waterpark.
If I had not done so well in that class Sheree’ taught, I don’t think she would have reached out to offer me a job. She didn’t offer it to any others as far as I knew.
After I was hired in and completed my basic training about the waterpark, I was assigned to an area call the ‘Lagoon’.
I worked there my first summer and made some rescues. It was an exciting job. You got to get a great tan, save lives and party your ass off at all of these great lifeguard parties.
I enjoyed my first summer at WaterWorld and even got a new nickname, Spider. I had done an impression of Spiderman one night at a party and the name just stuck.
After the summer was over, I returned to Louisiana to go back to college.
The year passed by quickly and I was again back at the waterpark. But there had been changes since my first year.
Part of the new training requirements was this test called “The Brick”. You had to hold a rubber coated, ten pound brick with both hands and tread water for 2 minutes, I think. It’s been so many years ago I’m not sure. It might have been for 3 minutes. It was hard to do.
Here is a girl doing it. You can see in her face that it’s not easy. This was a test incase you had to put someone in a neck securing hold in deep water and couldn’t use your arms to swim while you supported their neck after an injury.
Anyway, I couldn’t do it. I had no body fat whatsoever to help me float and I didn’t know the egg beater kick, which helps you a lot.
Since I couldn’t pass the Brick Test, I couldn’t work in deep water anymore, so I was assigned to Activities. This area was all of the water slides and WaterWorld had a lot of them.
At the beginning of the summer, there are no assignments for Head Guard yet. I began working at Activities and I started to help run the clipboard for my Head Guard from last season, who was now a Supervisor.
I did so well at keeping things organized that they named me a Head Guard of Activities. I now had a red name tag instead of the white ones for regular guards. That was a special thing.
I worked well at Activities. Part of the requirements to be a Head Guard was that you had to pass the brick test. I practiced until I could do it. The day I went for my test, they kept me out here for 4 minutes as a joke. So I went for twice as long as required.
It worked out well failing the brick test the first time. If I had passed, I would have been a regular guard at the Lagoon again, but now I was a Head Guard.
About a month later, I was told that there was going to be a promotion to Supervisor for one of the Head Guards.
There were three Head Guards selected to interview for this promotion out of six total Head Guards. I was one of the three. I was excited for the chance.
Myself and the other two Head Guards went through the interview process. I had a really good interview and was the one that was promoted. I had worked at the waterpark a total of 4 months and had already made Supervisor in Training. It was happy days for me back then.
A short time after I was promoted, a few more people were promoted too. We were all ‘Supervisors in Training’, but we were called SiT’s for short.
As Sit’s, we had to endure our share of hazing from the full fledged Supervisors and our Manager.
I always had a good relationship with my Manager and the Supervisors above me. I tried to return the hazings as much as I could, when possible.
One day, my Manager was sitting at one of the restaurants in the waterpark, having lunch with another big wig. He sees me and calls me over.
He says, “Hey Sit, that trash can is over-flowing. Go empty that trash bag”. As a Sit, we had to do whatever was asked of us.
I went over and took the full trash bag out of the can and put in a new trash bag. Then I promptly went to the back offices and placed the full trash bag in my bosses chair behind his desk.
When he came in and saw that trash bag again… in his chair – he was pissed, but not mad. And there is a difference.
As my punishment for doing that, he made me carry that bag of trash around the waterpark, for an entire day, everywhere I went; even to lunch. Everybody got a good laugh at calling me the Trash Man that day.
Another time, he told me to go over and pick up this life jacket and put it where it belonged.
I went over and picked it up. Then I t0ok it to a back area and got some supplies.
I took some tape and placed it across the back of the life jacket and wrote his name on it. It was like the manager of the waterpark had his own personal life jacket because he couldn’t swim. I then took the life jacket and put it in his office chair again.
The next day, when he comes in, he gets pissed again. I got a good laugh out of it.
As my punishment this time, he made me wear a life jacket all day around the waterpark. Man, did that suck.
Of course I couldn’t take this alone. So I implicated a fellow Sit in the ordeal by telling my Manager he was involved too.
My Manager made that other Sit wear a life jacket all day too. The best part was that he was cross training on the train that day and it gets over 100 degrees when you’re driving the train. He had to wear that life jacket in addition to already sweating his ass off, he was even more hot. I loved it.
I would go up to the train station every time the train whistle blew to signal its’ arrival. I would laugh at my fellow Sit and he would cuss me out. It was great fun.
Below, in the middle, is my first Head Guard, Jim Wilson. To his left, is my fellow Supervisor friend Dominic Hoepfl. He’s the one that I got into trouble and he had to wear the life vest while working on the train.
Here’s me and my Manager, Bob Logan. When I wrote his name on the Life Vest, I wrote “Boob Logan”.
I was always thin in those days, no matter how hard I tried to gain weight.
Things like the trash bag joke and the life vest incident occurred all the time when I was a Sit.
In addition to completing my training to become a full fledged supervisor, I was going to parties almost every night. And there were some wild parties. No one parties harder than we did.
After a couple of months of training, I was promoted to Water Safety Supervisor in the waterpark. I then started working shifts at the waterpark and was in charge of the operations as far as water safety went.
I had to maintain certifications as a waterpark lifeguard and in addition to that I had to be certified as a Lifeguarding Instructor, a CPR Instructor, a First Aid Instructor and I was certified in a course called Vital Signs.
In 1987, I earned a Lifetime Certification as a SCUBA diver from the organization called PADI. I used to SCUBA dive in the waterpark to fix things in the pools and to help clean them.
Being a Water Safety Supervisor at a large waterpark was a lot of responsibility for a 19 or 20 year old kid, but I really loved the challenge.
I would check staffing levels and even out the crews so every crew had enough guards to run breaks. I also responded to every rescue in the park and looked over the incident report to make sure everything was okay.
This is the Wave Pool and people loved swimming in it.
There were other responsibilities, like checking the water levels in all of the activities and watching the guards to make sure they were doing their jobs correctly.
During the day, I had to circulate the park and sign off on all of the Safety Check Lists that were completed by the Head Guards and their crews that morning before we opened.
We did Safety Checks every morning to ensure that the park was safe for the guests and employees alike.
Another important responsibility was to watch the weather and close down activities and pools if lightning was a threat.
The guests hated it when we would make everyone get out of the water and off of all of the slide towers, but lightning is nothing to play with. We never had an incident with lightning.
As a Supervisor, I could now give ‘Corrective Interviews’. If a guard got three of these, they were terminated.
I could also fire someone on the spot for any safety issue or violation of company policy. The job came with a lot of responsibility, but I loved it.
During this time, I had a good time with the ladies. One summer, I had 13 different girlfriends. And when I say girlfriends, I mean one night stands. Some girls I dated several times after meeting up at a party and getting drunk together.
One time I calculated it and found out that during the three months of summer, I was having sex every three days on average. It was our version of the ‘Free Love’ generation. Everybody was sleeping with everybody else.
It was the best years of our lives, when we had our bodies in the best shape and everybody looked great with a deep, dark tan.
Here are some photos a fellow Supervisor took of some lovely ladies that worked with us.
One of our pastimes at the waterpark was playing volleyball.
We had two courts and after work, we played all of the time.
I organized a tournament between the three waterparks in Houston and we beat Fame City and Splash Town every year. They hated us, lol.
Here’s a photo of me as a Supervisor, talking to one of my good friends.
These guys were some of my best friends at the waterpark. It seems everyone had a nickname. This is Gator, Pup and Muffin. As I said earlier, the called me Spider or Spiderman.
I think I was well liked by one and all, except for those that were jealous of my quick rise to Supervisor. You’ll have “Haters” everywhere you go, no matter what.
Each summer, the State Lifeguard Championship was held. Most of the time it was hosted by our waterpark. This was fun to have the competition on our property.
When I heard about the Lifeguard Competition, I was immediately interested. Although I had not been a person who had taken swimming lessons as a youth or was a member of a swim club, that didn’t stop me from looking into getting on the team.
We had three teams that competed. The first team was called S.T.O.R.M. That stood for Strong Team of Rescue Men. Then there was team number two. They were to try and finish right after the first team, in order to create a larger gap in points between our first team and anyone else.
Lastly, we had a third team. This team was a team that was just for fun and had no hopes of winning, or even placing well.
The picture below is of the Rescue Tube Relay.
We had all great swimmers on our first and second teams, and most were on college scholarships for swimming. They were that good, so there was no hope of me making the team in any of the swimming events.
Here is one of our members competing in the Rescue Tube Relay. I think this is Jim Hord. We would always be the fastest and win first in this event.
I did find out about another event that I could compete in. It was called the Ring Buoy Relay. You stood on the side of the pool and threw a ring buoy inside of a target area and you had three other teammates on this 4 man relay.
This is one of our members competing in the Victim Recovery Relay. You run out to recover a submerged mannequin that simulates a drowning victim.
I began practicing the ring buoy all of the time until I became really good at it. After a while, I was the best ring buoyer in the whole park.
After the competitor retrieves the mannequin from the bottom of the pool, he begins to swim back to shore as fast as he can.
Since each team member had to compete in two events, I had to come up with another event I could compete in so I could make the team.
After a while, a second teammate is allowed to swim out and assist the first rescuer in bringing the mannequin into shore and the finish line. All of these events are timed and you are racing against all of the other teams.
I ended up competing in the Backboarding event, where you place a judge on a Backboard as if they had a neck or spinal injury. The judge on the board and another watching would grade your performance in order to know who won first place and so on.
Here, the two rescuers support the head and sprint to shore once they are in shallower water. I think this is John Cox and Jeff McPherson. We always won first in this event also.
I also studied and competed in the testing portion of the competition. I took the Lifeguarding test and did well. There were tests on CPR and First Aid as well and we always placed first in these events. Our test takers were very smart people.
The picture below is of the AR Relay. Artificial resuscitation relay. The first rescuer had to swim out and begin simulating AR as he swam back to the finish line. After he signaled with a raised fist, the second teammate could swim out and assist him in towing the mannequin to the finish line.
I know it sounds repetitious, but we finished first in this event all of the time also.
As a member of the Backboarding team, myself and the other ring buoy specialists handled strapping in the lower part of the body. The head and chest area were the most important parts of this drill.
Since I was finished strapping in the legs one year, I reached up and held the judges hand.
After we brought the judge to shore and unstrapped her, we were waiting to hear how we had done.
The firs thing she said was, “Who held my hand?”. By doing that, I had impressed and pleased the judge, so we obviously won first place in that event too.
Here I am on the Backboarding team, carrying the judge to shore. You can see me holding her hand in the picture.
On the ring buoy team, I usually went first to set the tone and get us off to a good start.
Here I am supporting our Anchor Man in the relay.
We finished with a time of 3:15 that year and set a new state record. Obviously we won the event.
Here we are receiving our Blue Ribbons for First Place. That’s me Spider, Turtle, Timmy and Eli.
A few years later, we broke our own record in the ring buoy event with a time of 1:48.
Here we are right after the event. That’s Gator, Spider, Turtle and Kyle.
It was always nice to have the competition at our park because our guards could watch us win all of the time. We made all of our guards proud to say that they worked at WaterWorld, home of the State Champions.
Here’s the picture of the first time we won the state competition. I jumped on Pat’s back for the photo. This competition was held at a waterpark facility in Houston called Fame City.
Here we are after another victory. This event was held at our park, WaterWorld.
This next victory photo shows you how much I was partying that summer because I was so thin. This photo was in the paper. We made the paper several times during our careers.
This photo is from victory number 5 and it was held at Splash Town, another waterpark in Houston.
In this championship photo, you can see signs on the back wall of the Wave Pool. Six Flags put up a new sign every time we won the state championship. We were winning so often that they ran out of room on the wall, so they just made one sign and put all of the years on the bottom of this one sign. It was nice to look at and it impressed the guests at our waterpark.
In a lot of the winning photos, I was in the same spot.
Here’s a better photo of the back wall of the wave pool, where they started hanging signs for our championships.
This is a picture of the one sign they made that had all of the years on one sign. We won one more year, then we retired. You can see where the 1995 was placed on the wall until we got the new sign that included that year and the word retired.
Here’s a photo of the sign when we had 9 consecutive championships. It’s blurry but you can still make out the sign in the background. Since many of the original team were leaving the waterpark for other jobs, we decided to retire the name S.T.O.R.M. so that’s why it says Retired after the 1995 championship.
We did this so no one could compete under our name and tarnish our reputation by not winning a championship like we had.
Here’s a clearer picture of a section of the sign.
To let you know how really good we were, for several years there was a Regional Lifeguard Competition before the State Competition. We won all of the Regional Competitions also.
So instead of 9 championships, we really had about 13 if you count the regional championships.
I doubt there will ever be a Lifeguard Team in the U.S. that was as good as us for so long, with so many championships to our name.
I must say, being a member of the Lifeguard Team for WaterWorld was a high point of my life and always will be. It was some of the best times of my life and I’ll remember them always.
But the summer was not all filled with Lifeguard Competition practice and events. I had time for lots of other fun.
At the waterpark, I was called the Master of Ceremonies because I always spearheaded the parties by making and handing out the maps to everyone. I also came up with new ideas to have fun all of the time.
One year, I came up with the idea to make a funny video that was called “Super Dave”.
There was a show on TV that featured Super Dave Osborne and his stunts always ended horribly, which was the fun and comedy of his show.
We had a guard named Dave, so we named our video Super Dave as well.
I came up with these stunts that he could attempt, but they always ended badly for him.
Here is Super Dave’s stunt crew getting ready for his first stunt. The photos were taken out of the video, so they’re not the best but they’ll do for this story.
In his first stunt, he was to be taped into a tube and attempt to ride all the way down our tube ride while strapped in and unable to move. The premise was pretty funny.
He looked funny when he was all taped into the tube and we did this while the park was open, so the other guests were laughing as well.
As you’d expect, his stunts never worked out quite the way he expected, lol. He did two more stunts with the same results and the video was pretty funny when finished.
A few years later, I did another video, but this time it was called Super Wee because we used a different guard as the star stuntman of the video.
I think Super Wee came out better than Super Dave, but both were good, funny videos. It’s where I got my start doing video work and now I’m pretty damned good at it, if I do say so myself.
Here’s a video screen capture of me having a laugh with some other guards. I laughed all the time when I worked at the waterpark. It was a cheerful place to work.
Another thing that I did that was a lot of fun was organize our very own version of the Gumboil Rally.
Each summer, I had the guards make up their own teams of four people and get ready to race go karts at night after work.
There were a couple of rules though. Each team had to have a good name, wear costumes and have a slogan.
I had some buddies that I always raced with a and we called ourselves Racer X, like from the cartoon Speed Racer.
One year, we wore one of my buddies moms’ stewardess dresses from the 70’s. Our slogan was “We’re gonna fly”.
Here are three of us in our stewardess dresses. Can you imagine that stewardesses actually wore these in the 70’s?
We always shot video of the Gumboil Rally. One of the other rules was that you had to show up at our regular drinking place, a dead end street, before the race and get shit-faced drunk.
In the photo below, I just told my teammate, Gator, his shoe was untied. You can never be too safe, lmao.
We had a blast racing in the Gumboil Rally each summer. We never had a clear cut winner because everybody was drunk and everybody was cheating.
This always led to a heavily debated topic the next day at the waterpark. Our contention was that Racer X never loses.
It was a fun time arguing with everybody when they are all accusing you of cheating, lol.
Something else that we did at the park was Fright Fest. After the summer was over, we helped the amusement park next to us host their Halloween festivities.
They gave us an attraction, ride or area and let us decorate and staff it, then we scared the shit out of people all during the weekends of Halloween.
The last place they gave us was our own waterpark. We decorated it and made it look scary at night, then they gave us some trams to carry people around the waterpark and we would scare them as they passed each little decorated area. It was a lot of fun to set up and operate.
The photos below are from when we were scaring people at the waterpark.
By far, the best place they ever gave us to scare people was their African Boat Tour the first year we ever did it.
We had different things and people located all around the riverboat ride and scared the living shit out of people.
One of the first things that happened on the boat ride was that we yanked someone off of the boat. This scared everybody to death because after that they didn’t know if they would be next or not.
Here’s a photo of someone getting yanked off of the boat by one of us dressed in a “Jason” costume. We called our attraction “Blood River”.
What the public didn’t know was that the person being pulled off was one of us.
We had a dryer that was constantly drying clothes for us and our “Yankies” would get into dry clothes, get in the boat with everybody else when the ride started and make small talk with the guests as if they were a guest also.
We had the best time with this ride. Most of us were wearing wet suits and were in the water all around the boat’s trip. It is hilarious and tons of fun to scare the daylights or of people. We had them jumping from one side of the boat to the other. It was great.
Another thing that was great about “Blood River” was that most of the people in my group were drinking. We couldn’t drink beer because the cans would have been evidence. So we mixed screwdriver, vodka and orange juice, and put them in jars and drank that all night long. Being paid to get drunk and scare people was the best. If you ever get the chance to do that, I suggest you jump on it, lol.
One year, they gave us a mountain ride after they took out the African Boat Ride to put in a new attraction. We were definitely sad to see the boat ride go. Blood River was our all time favorite place to scare people.
The mountain wasn’t that bad though. We had them follow a tour guide through the mountain and there were lots of places to scare people from.
Every year, they gave us a budget and a catalog to order supplies from. We always ordered a lot of fake blood. Out motto was, “You can never have enough Blood”.
The photo below is from when we did the mountain for Halloween. I was a sheriff battling ‘Jason” in this posed photo. That’s me and Pat Lavin as Jason. He was my boss and the Head Coach of the Lifeguard Team I was on.
After Halloween was over, some of us Supervisors and a few selected others were hired on to continue working in AstroWorld, the amusement park next to the waterpark.
We bagan decorating all of the trees with Christmas lights for the Holiday in the Park celebration coming up.
It was fun working on this project. We called it H.I.P. for short. We had over 400 trees to decorate in a short time and it was hard work at times.
They gave us the use of a man lift and we had a lot of fun goofing off with this. It could lift you really high up into the air. So high that it got to be pretty scary to be that high in the basket of a man lift.
We all learned a great deal about the decorating lights used for the holiday’s. We even took side jobs decorating places outside of work for extra money. I did a bank one year and also a coffeeshop in the Montrose.
I also did this huge Oak tree at one of my favorite bars in the Montrose in exchange for a drinking tab. Turtle went up there all of the time and drank it all up before I could really enjoy any free drinks. Man, was I pissed at him. He had hardly done any work on the tree and I was the one that went up high in the tree and had risked my neck to do a good job decorating this tree.
All in all, Fright Fest and H.I.P. were a lot of fun, and a great way to spend the fall after the waterpark had closed down.
When it came to the next year, we had work then too, because we had to put away all of the Holiday decorations that were put out for H.I.P.
This lasted a couple of months. Then it was time to work AstroWorld’s Spring Break celebration. We operated a climbing wall and other fun attractions for them and it was a great job, considering we didn’t have to go out and get real jobs until work began at the waterpark again.
One year, two of my fellow Supervisors got jobs in Padre Island for all of Spring Break. I went down and joined them. It was a blast.
We hosted Keg parties, got a bus and brought people into Mexico for a night of drinking and dancing at a Mexican bar and other fun events for the Spring Breakers.
We worked on fun things during the day and each night we were getting hammered at the bars of Padre Island. It was one of the most fun times of my life.
In the photo below, you can tell I was having a good time, when you pass out on the beach in broad daylight, lol. I wore that grass skirt throughout all of Spring Break.
After Spring Break, it was time to get the waterpark ready to open again. We would begin cleaning and getting ready.
We had to take out the rescue equipment and get it ready. Check all of the Lifeguard Stands and get our Guest Relations Office clean and ready.
We also pressure washed the concrete. I loved this part of the job. I would put my earphones in and go to town with that pressure washer.
I enjoyed cleaning the concrete every year and I always did a good job at it.
So, considering all of the jobs we had during the off season from the waterpark, we never had to get real jobs once the waterpark closed for the season.
I did this cycle of work for many years. And I loved the constant change of jobs every few months. It never got boring.
After the waterpark opened, I organized a Cook Out for all of the LifeGuards.
I called up some friends of mine that owned a restaurant and they would come out and cook fried shrimp and some Cajun food for everyone.
It was a great way to kick off the summer. Everyone loved the Cajun Cook Out.
When the waterpark opened again, one of the other things that I did was coach the softball team. We had an awesome team.
We were so good that we went undefeated for two seasons, back to back. Nobody could even come close to beating us. Softball was another of my great loves of the summer.
Each year, I would design a T shirt for the softball team to wear. We called them STORM shirts, after our name, Strong Team of Rescue Men.
Everybody in the waterpark had a STORM shirt and wore them religiously. They were very popular among the guards.
Here is a photo of the softball team after one of our Undefeated Seasons. We dominated.
Here is another photo from the next season of Undefeated play. It never got old posing with trophies. We did it all the time.
I’d like to think that I was a good coach, considering I was the only coach to ever have back to back undefeated seasons.
I was always too skinny during my years at the waterpark, but I was ripped with no body fat.
I’ll tell you something now that not a lot of people know about waterparks.
There’s a lot of money found at a waterpark. People lose money out of their shorts and swimsuits all day long while they are playing and riding the slides.
Most of the money is found in the Splash Pools. That’s where the ride ends and people splash into a pool that ends the ride.
I heard many stories of lifeguards finding wads of bills floating in the water and they would just grab it and stuff it in their swimsuits and not tell anyone.
We had “Water Wallets” at our waterpark. These were little blue plastic, thin containers that people bought to hold their money in. They had pins on them so they could pin them to their swimsuits. But sometimes they came off.
When we found these we were supposed to turn them into Guest Relations in case the guest came looking for it.
Most of the time this process worked, but there’s no telling how many water wallets were found and never turned in.
One job I had at the waterpark that I enjoyed was diving the pools at night after the park had closed.
I had a diving mask and I would go from pool to pool picking up all of the coins on the bottom of the pools. These coins added up to a lot of cash quickly.
We called this money Splash Cash or our Slush Fund. We would spend it on alcohol for the lifeguard parties or to buy softballs and equipment for our softball and lifeguard teams.
I had two very cool experiences while I was diving the pools.
One day at the waterpark, I went to the First Aid department to check on an injury that occurred in the park. A boy had hit his friend on one of the slides and knocked his front tooth out.
I asked what area this happened and left First Aid.
I grabbed my mask and went to that splash pool. Ordinarily, you’d have to shut down the ride in order to dive the pool because of the people continuously landing in the splash pool. However, I knew how to dive the pool without interfering with the guests landing in the pool.
I spent some time looking and finally found his tooth. It was large and intact.
I brought it to First Aid and they put it in milk and gave it to the boy’s mother. They left the park and headed to his dentist so that the tooth could be put back in. I saved that kid’s smile that day and I was happy about it.
Another time, I was in the park when a lady came up to the Guest Relations window and told us about how she lost her diamond out of her ring on the Speed Slide.
This ride was a high velocity ride, so I couldn’t dive it during operating hours, but after work that day I began looking for her diamond.
You can imagine how hard this was. A diamond for a ring is small compared to the area I had to search for it. The Speed Slide splash pool was pretty big and it took me forever but I finally found this small diamond because it flashed a sparkle from the lights underwater in the pool.
I never told anyone I found the diamond because they probably would have tried to talk me into keeping it and trying to get some money for it.
Instead, I brought it to the Security Department and turned it in so it could be returned to the lady.
About two weeks later, I was near the Tube Ride when two girls walked up. They were the ladies’ daughters and she wanted to give me a reward.
I politely declined and told them that it was my pleasure to find it for her.
That was another good feeling I had while diving the pools at the waterpark. I enjoyed that job and did it all of the time. I miss doing that because it was fun.
One summer, a fellow Supervisor of mine got promoted to Manager of the waterpark. We called him Chet, after the brother in the movie “Weird Science”. Chet in the movie was always hazing his younger brother and our Chet was a stickler for procedure and rules.
If we were going to goof off, we had to keep an eye out for Chet because he could be a real dick some days.
In the mornings, before the park would open, the guards would be filling water coolers and doing Safety Check Lists. I would go into the Guest Relations Office and get on the P.A. system and play certain songs and talk about funny things that were happening in the waterpark. It was our own little radio station. I called it KChet Pirate radio.
Chet was always still in the back office and never knew about KChet Pirate radio. If he did, he would have made me stop. That was Chet for you.
So without me working at the waterpark, they would have never had the Gumball Rally, the Cajun Cook Out, KChet Pirate Radio, the volleyball tournament, STORM shirts, an undefeated softball team and no one to organize most of the parties and hand out maps to everyone. I dare say, I would have been missed when it came to having fun during the summer.
Although I’ve painted a picture of Lifeguard Competitions, Parties, Go Karts, Cook Outs and lots of fun, working at a waterpark was still a very serious job.
We had to undergo specialized training just to be certified to work in a waterpark, then we had to undergo training about the waterpark specifically; not to mention being CPR certified.
After a person was hired in and fully trained about the area they would be working, they began work and were required to attend a mandatory training session once a week to maintain their jobs.
There were lectures by nationally known aquatic experts like Dr. John Hunsucker, as seen below.
Continual Training is a necessary part of a lifeguards’ job.
Staying fresh with the knowledge and procedures for CPR is extremely important.
You never know when you may need to perform these skills and practicing made the guards good and built confidence in them that they were well prepared.
Learning how to treat someone with a suspected neck or spinal injury was also very important to learn if you worked at a waterpark.
Knowing the proper techniques could lessen the severity of an injury and not cause further harm to the injured person.
This is a picture of how you stabilize a person’s head and neck while in the water, if you suspect they have a head, neck or spinal injury. This is why you test out on the brick to make sure you can help a victim and swim without using your arms, because they would be occupied helping the victim.
Knowing how to place an injured person on a backboard was necessary training at the waterpark because we had to do this every so often.
People would land the wrong way in a pool or collide with someone else and they would suffer an injury.
Although we backboarded some guests at our park, none were ever serious injuries. We backboarded them mostly as a precautionary step.
Every guard needed to know what to do in each position on the backboard.
The deep water guards had to constantly work on their water skills.
They practiced their rescue techniques a lot, so they were ready when the time came to use their skills.
We had rescues every day at the waterpark. People would get tired, jump into deep water and not know it or fall off of a tube in deep water.
There were many reasons why a person needed rescuing.
The guards also trained on how to handle an unconscious person and how to administer Artificial Resuscitation while in the water.
This is a technique for turning a person over who is face down in the water.
The deep water guards also practiced their escape maneuvers, in case a drowning person grabbed them and took them underwater also.
Not many people could undergo the type of training these guards had to undergo.
Although training was a weekly requirement, most of the guards liked it, and also they got paid for it, so it meant extra money on their paychecks.
I’m sure the guards learned skills they will never forget for the rest of their lives.
While I was working at WaterWorld, I got a call one day from the waterpark in California. They wanted me to come out to train their guards on how to work at a wave pool.
Here’s a photo of the California guards and myself.
While I was in California working at their wave pool, there was a person that started to drowned in the middle of the pool.
I saw them but the guards didn’t. I had a group of VIP’s standing a few feet behind me and I didn’t want to cause a scene that would give a negative impression about the guards.
I did my best to get the guards attention without blowing my whistle loudly and pointing.
After a few seconds, the guard on that side of the pool noticed the victim and went in to rescue him. I was relieved that the rescue was made because we were running the pool with less than the guards I would have usually had because no other guards were available.
After the rescue was made, one of the VIP’s called me over and said that the guard had done a good job. He also asked me if we could get some more guards on the pool.
I said sure and that I’d get to work on that, then they walked off.
I thought to myself “No shit, Sherlock”. If I had the guards, of course I would have had them up in the lifeguard stands. These VIP’s walked away thinking that they had actually told me to do something that I hadn’t thought of. Some people.
When I returned to Houston, I used our guards and the wave pool and wrote an instructional manual for the California park to use with their wave pool.
I used the man lift to get a “Bird’s Eye” view of the rescue simulation I had planned.
That’s me and my photographer up in the man lift.
Working at the waterpark helped me develop into a responsible person with a good work ethic. And meeting all of the girls didn’t hurt either, lol.
Waterpark lifeguards are a great group of people to know and be friends with. Their well-trained, fun loving party animals.
Now days, everyone in these photos is probably married with kids of their own, but for a while we were Sun Kings and Queens and nobody did it better.
I took this picture from a video. It’s one of the last pictures of me in a lifeguard stand.
This is myself and some of my lifeguard buddies at a party. We’re all getting older, but we’re still good friends.
I organized a reunion for the lifeguards and this is myself and the ladies.
A few years back, I met up with some of the other Supervisors I had worked with at the waterpark. We had a good time having a drink and reminiscing about the good old days.
Here’s another photo from that night. The guy to my left is my first Head Guard and the guy who helped me get promoted to Head Guard myself.
On my resume’, I always put the part about being a State Champion Lifeguard. It was one of my first big accomplishments and I will always be very proud of the work and effort I put in to get that title of champion.
Here’s our best photo as champions. I cherish it. There’s a lot of good friends in that picture with whom I have many great memories of and with.
When I was a shivering little kid sitting, shocked, under Sheree’s lifeguard stand, I could have never imagined that that moment would be so impactful on the rest of my life.
I never knew that pulling on a kids legs and causing him to almost drowned could change a person’s life so drastically.
If I had not almost drowned, I may never had become such a strong swimmer and taken Sheree’s lifeguarding class.
Taking that class led to my job offer to work at the waterpark. Working at the waterpark helped me develop very good social skills and gave me lots of managerial experience at an early age. As a Head Guard at 19, I was in charge of up to 75 lifeguards and as a Water Safety Supervisor, I was overseeing about 150 guards and responsible for the safety of as many as 5,000 guests to that waterpark.
If I had not developed good work skills and been living in Houston, I would have never been offered a job to work in motorsports and met and worked with the likes of Jeff Gordon and many more racing legends.
If that kid had never pulled my legs and almost caused me to drowned, I would have never received a ring for being a State Champion Lifeguard and a NASCAR Championship ring for working with Jeff Gordon, as well as an IndyCar Championship ring for my work in that series also.
You never know what little thing may change the course of your life. It could be a fender bender where you meet your future spouse and have several kids with. It may be when you bump carts in the grocery store with someone and meet your future boss that gives you a great job, where you work your entire career and receive several promotions and make lots of money during your life.
I’ve said before that I’ve lived a charmed life to a certain degree. I’ve seen this great country far and wide several times a year for many years. I’ve been to Europe and seen Italy, Paris, London and Amsterdam, with plans to visit many more.
I’ve met so many quality people and made lifelong friends with them. I’ve had experiences many can only dream about and some that people would have never even thought of.
All because I almost died that day in that community pool in a small town in Louisiana.
Being rescued by a Supermodel blonde that day changed my life and I’ll be forever grateful to her.
Remember to take advantage of every opportunity and situation offered to you. If I had not put in the effort of working my best at the Activities area of that waterpark when I couldn’t pass the brick test, I would have never been promoted to Head Guard and never to Supervisor. I would have stayed an Activities Guard that summer and every summer I continued to work there, if I even came back for a third season after being somewhat demoted to a less qualified guard that could not save people in deep water.
Two bad things that happened to me in my life, almost drowning and failing the Brick Test, turned out to be the best things to happen to me.
Always look for the ‘Silver Lining’ and make ‘Lemonade out of Lemons’.
I hope all of your negatives always turn into positives for you. And remember the old saying, “Life is what you make of it”. So work hard and always try to do your best and good things will happen for you eventually, I guarantee it.
Thanks for reading this story about my days as a Lifeguard. I hope that you enjoyed it and found it entertaining in some way that made it worth your while to spend the time reading it.
Until next time, do what makes you happy. Life’s too short to dilly dally.