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Sun, Feb. 16

Lifeguards ready to do their duty

(Editor’s Note: Only the first few paragraphs of this story ran in last week’s Review, so we are running it again in its entirety. Our apologies for the error.)

Athough the new swimming pool is not open yet, the Parks and Recreation Department hired 18 teenage lifeguards part time to staff the pool in early June.

The lifeguards started work June 6 and underwent a 40-hour American Red Cross class in which they learned cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, said Katie Martinez, the town’s aquatics center manager. They took the class at the Mountain Valley Splash pool in Prescott Valley.

The aspiring lifeguards also needed to swim 500 yards nonstop, and pass a written exam as well as a test in which they responded to a simulated drowning or another emergency involving a pool user, Martinez said.

“We had to do a lot of book studying,” lifeguard/swim instructor Kelsie Sharp, 16, said. “You had to think quick and do it (the simulations) correctly.”

Kelsie and her 17 peers passed the exam, Martinez said. She added that 10 of the youths also took the 47-hour Red Cross class for water safety instructors in order to teach swim lessons at the pool.

However, lifeguard training has entailed more than a test of the stamina and mental abilities of the youth. They have had time to act like kids as well.

For instance, during a trek to Sycamore Canyon near Clarkdale, Martinez caught a crawfish and placed it on the nose of Fritz vonSchlegell, a 16-year-old lifeguard and swimming instructor.

“I was the only one who could catch him,” Martinez said, referring to the crawfish.

Fritz, 17, obliged, and let the critter squeeze his nose for about a minute.

“You were like crying,” Morgan Chambers, 17, told Fritz.

That may be the case, but Fritz, takes credit to bringing a lot of humor to the lifeguard contingent. He even pokes fun over how difficult it is to spell his Prussian surname.

“The kids like Fritz because he is so goofy,” Kelsie said.

Fritz, Kelsie and Morgan, all incoming seniors at Chino Valley High School, are among 25 youths whom Parks and Recreation hired to staff the pool and aquatics center. They are earning $6 to $9 an hour, depending on their skills and what they are doing, Human Resources Director Judi Schafman said.

The pool, when completed, will contain 2,376 square feet of space for a play area, 3,379 square feet for the six-lane competition area and 300 square feet of shallow water serving a water slide.

And once it opens, Kelsie, Fritz, Morgan and the other youths will dive into their new responsibilities.

“I am doing miscellaneous office work, planning (and) phone calls,” Kelsie said. “It is definitely a fun job.”

Kelsie, an aspiring Broadway singer and actress, described her peers as “great.”

They work hard, have a sense of humor and work together well, she said.

Morgan will work in the snack bar, teach swimming lessons and assume lifeguard duties in August, and Fritz will be a lifeguard and teach swimming.

Morgan said she regards being a lifeguard as a “dream job,” adding that she lives in a home with a swimming pool.

She said she will acquire skills, such as CPR, that will help her to land other jobs later on. Morgan said she wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up.

While Morgan and Kelsie sounded serious when asked about their career ambitions, Fritz played his comic role.

“I want to be a man,” he said.

Asked to elaborate, he said, “I want to find myself where I am not bound by conventional wisdom.”

For the time being, he and his peers are taking a plunge.

Contact the reporter at khedler@prescottaz.com

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