Story by Kelly Hendricks
Photo by Luke Nankivell
Tired of the elliptical or treadmill, but it’s just too snowy to get your cardio on in the cold? Well, the Bell Center pool is open all year long, even when the temperatures outside are in the negatives. However, this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the campus lifeguards devotedly watching over students as they hit the deck.
And lifeguarding at Drake University isn’t easy. First-year campus lifeguard, AnaEliza Chelf, says to become a Bell Center lifeguard, it is required to be American Red Cross certified in lifeguarding, first aid and AEDs (automated external defibrillators).
Fellow first-year lifeguard Catherine DeFino says the job takes a lot of focus.
“A normal shift requires me to be there 15 minutes before the pool opens,” DeFino said. “First, I have to make sure all the chemicals are safe to swim in, so I do a quick test. I take the temperature of the pool as well. After I make sure that the pool is safe, I unlock the doors to let the patrons inside.”
The job also entails taking attendance of how many people use the pool as well as putting in and taking out the pool vacuum for the first and last shifts of the day.
Both girls were lifeguards prior to college and decided to apply to be on the Bell Center pool staff once they got to Drake.
To make sure all the lifeguards are ready for emergency situations, they have audits. This can be different at certain facilities, but at Drake they are called in-services, and they take place at the beginning of each semester.
“During in-services, we practice scenarios of possible emergencies at the pool including active and passive victims,” DeFino said.
Chelf said there are also scenarios on the Red Cross exam to prepare lifeguards for possible emergencies.
There aren’t too many emergencies in Drake’s pool, though.
“It’s mostly lap swimmers and most of them are pretty decent swimmers, so it’s not a huge concern that there will be a problem,” Defino said.
Defino and Chelf each enjoy their job and like getting to talk to the swimmers as they come and go. Having good conversations while they are watching the swimmers can make their shifts go by quicker. Some things, however, can make the shift seem like an eternity.
“One thing I did not anticipate when I decided to lifeguard at Drake was the amount of professors I would see in their swimsuits,” DeFino said. “I currently have three of my professors that come fairly regularly, and it always makes for an awkward situation.”