Keeping Watch: Local lifeguards ensuring the safety of your children
Swimmers playfully enjoying themselves below and across her watchful gaze, Courtnie Cobb sits high above the water at Mountain Valley Splash, whistle at the ready, looking for any signs of trouble.
Her title: Lifeguard
Her mission: Ensure the safety of all those at Mountain Valley Splash.
It’s Cobb’s second year being a lifeguard, having grown up swimming at the Prescott Valley pool.
“I remember coming to the pool and getting swim lessons, stuff like that,” she said. “My dad saw it in the newspaper that they were hiring and he was like ‘you need to do it because then you can be like your childhood again. It’ll be a full circle.”
The best part about being a lifeguard is being able to work as a team with all of her coworkers, as well as learning all the necessary first aid information, Cobb said. There’s a lot of little things about the human body that most people don’t realize that is interesting to learn, she said.
Another lifeguard at Mountain Valley Splash, Alex Fabela, has worked at Mountain Valley Splash for three years, though she has been a lifeguard for only two. Working in the office for the first year and watching all of the lifeguards helped her realize she has the maturity, skill and confidence to go out there and do what they were doing, Fabela said.
The year after, she challenged and proved to herself that she could actually do it, she said.
Sable Padilla, a lifeguard at the Chino Valley Aquatic Center, said it’s nice to work with people that she knows and has kind of grown up with.
“We’re able to work together a little bit better than what you would do with strangers,” Padilla said.
Reflecting on her background, Padilla said having been on teams her whole life helped her as a lifeguard in being able to talk with people, making sure everyone’s on the same page and working as a team.
The training for the position involved a lot of swimming and saving her instructor from the bottom of the pool, Padilla said. Cobb said their training for being a lifeguard at Mountain Valley Splash was over a weekend where she had to learn a lot of material, including the CPR ratio, and having to swim 300 meters without stopping.
Also a lifeguard at the Chino Valley Aquatic Center, Kyra Peterson said she wanted to be a lifeguard after joining a Certified Nursing Assistant program that helped her realize she wanted to work around kids. It led her to lifeguarding which allowed her to be around them and work with them firsthand, Peterson said. As she goes further into that profession, she said, working as a lifeguard has helped her when it comes to being able to help with first aid.
“If there is an emergency situation, you’re going to be less panicked about it because you’re used to it,” Peterson said. “Around here if there is an emergency situation, we are prepared for it.”
Lacey Stone, a lifeguard at the James Family Prescott YMCA, has been keeping watch over swimmers for about five years. She got into it because she grew up around water, Stone said.
When it comes to being a lifeguard, the best part is the kids, she said.
“Really just seeing how much fun they can have,” Stone said, adding she also enjoys seeing them gain new skills and grow in their confidence.
Looking to the future, Padilla said she wants to be a teacher. Lifeguarding and giving swimming lessons have helped her improve her teaching skills, she said. Cobb said she thought about going into the medical field for a long time, said she’s still considering it but also has learned valuable knowledge for her future family. If she needs to give her future child CPR, she knows how to do it, she said.
Being a lifeguard and getting to do something that’s meaningful every day has shaped her a lot, Fabela said.
“I feel like now, I want to do something. I show up to work every day feeling like I have a purpose. I used to not think that way,” she said. “I was just going to get by with a minimum job, but now, it’s like I have some skills that I can take away and go do something meaningful, maybe like medical field. Stuff like that.”
WANT TO SWIM?
Mountain Valley Splash, 8600 E. Nace Lane in Prescott Valley, has open swim from 1 to 4:30 p.m. daily through Sunday, Aug. 4. Entry fees are $3.50 for youth and seniors and $4.50 for adults. It can be reached at 928-775-3165
The Chino Valley Aquatic Center, 1615 N. Road 1 East, has open swim from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday through Sunday through Sunday, Aug. 11. Entry Fees are $3.25 for youth and seniors, $4.25 for adults and free for children 2 and younger. It can be reached at 928-636-9780.
The James Family Prescott YMCA, 750 Whipple St., has open rec swim from 2:05 to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Monday, from 1:30 to 5 and 7 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 7:45 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:45 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, Aug. 4. Day use passes are $5 for youth and $10 for adults. One youth is free when accompanied by an adult paying for an adult day pass to use the pool. It can be reached at 928-445-7221 and membership fees can be found online at www.prescottymca.org.