Local lifeguards kick off summer at boot camp

Monday, June 15, 2015

By ELEANOR C. HASENBECK

Staff Writer

While many people kick off their summer on the water, lifeguards at the Black River Coliseum and Huntington Pool aren't relaxing poolside. Some Poplar Bluff lifeguards recently underwent four days of intense physical and skills training as part of the facilities' lifeguard boot camp.

"It's a good way to make sure that all of our guards are ready for summer. That our guards know what they're doing," assistant manager Kyler Sowell.

For four days, lifeguards started their day before 6 a.m. The facilities divided into two groups, Coliseum guards and Huntington guards. After choosing smaller teams, guards chose team names and colors.

Each team completed an hour of vigorous physical workouts a day. Together, teams swam, ran a 5K, and even competed in a kickball game between the two facilities. Teams then underwent 20 hours of training for emergency situations. Finally, guards put their skills to the test in mock emergency scenarios.

"Everyone gets to practice with co-workers as a team, which you don't always get to do," said Heather Tuggle, Aquatic and Fitness Manager at the Black River Coliseum. "Since lifeguards need to stay in shape and physically fit, we add physical challenges."

For many lifeguards boot camp is a grueling tradition. Tuggle has facilitated boot camp for eight years. Its one of the few times a year that guards from both facilities are able to work, learn and have fun together. Veteran lifeguards can often be heard reminiscing about past workouts or scenarios, and Huntington guards are quick to remind other participants that, prior to this year, they've had a multi-year winning streak in the annual inter-facility kickball game.

"How fun is that? You get paid to play kickball and learn your skills," said Tuggle.

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