Identify Problematic Swimmers

Inform other lifeguards and supervisors of weak or problematic swimmers.

As a lifeguard, you should take pride in everything you’ve been trained to see and hear. When you fail to communicate your observations… you’re not only putting your fellow guards at a dramatic disadvantage, you’re also putting swimmers at risk.

Recognizing Problematic Swimmers

In this Lifeguard Commandment video we focused more on the importance of communicating your observations rather than discussing methods for recognizing problematic swimmers. This reason for this was simple, recognizing weak or problematic swimmers should be second nature to every lifeguard. As a lifesaving professional, spotting vulnerable or mischievous patrons is your first priority. If you don’t know what to be looking for, or have concerns with what is being asked of you, speak with your supervisor immediately.

Opportunities for Communication

As the Yoni Gottesman story illustrates, simply recognizing a weak swimmer is not enough. Lifeguards must take steps to share their observations with other guards. Fortunately, several opportunities for sharing your observations are built into a typical lifeguard shift.

Lifeguard Rotations

One of the five most important steps of a safe lifeguard rotation is sharing useful information with the other guard. Useful information includes identifying any weak swimmers, swimmers that have been reprimanded for rules violations, or swimmers who appear to be tiring.
Swim testing each patron is an excellent way to make identifying weaker swimmers easier.

Shift Changes

At pools with only one lifeguard on duty, effective communication is even more important. Lifeguards should take full advantage of shift changes and share as much information about their shift as possible. In addition to everything listed above for communicating during a lifeguard rotation, lifeguards should discuss things like environmental concerns, such as managing glare and wind.

In-Service Trainings

Lifeguard rotations and shift changes are a great opportunity to share information where time is of the essence, but are not the proper time to discuss bigger, and more long-term ideas. Luckily, lifeguards have in-service trainings… the perfect chance to talk about larger concerns or observations.

Topics of discussion for lifeguard in-services include lifeguard-to-swimmer ratios, lifeguard stand positions, swim testing procedures, and more. Check out our Lifeguard Commandment video on how to make the most of lifeguard in-service trainings.

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