Lifeguard Olympics provides youths an exercise in life-saving techniques
By Stefanie Frazier For The Beacon-News July 15, 2012 5:06PM
Austin Dickson, 12, of Aurora, collected the most rings from the deep end at Splash Country in Aurora during the ring toss contest held as part of the Lifeguard Olympics on Saturday July 14, 2012. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: August 17, 2012 6:24AM
Daniel Conlin kept a watchful eye during Lifeguard Olympics at Splash Country Water Park in Aurora Saturday.
Conlin, swimming program coordinator, supervisor and lifeguard for Jeff Ellis Management, LLC, threw a bunch of coins into the cold, clear turquoise pool.
Children tossed colorful rings. Some children swam and kicked up white water splashes in their search.
“How much change can they get?” Conlin asked. He pointed into the water.
“Some over there!” he called. “It looks like the guests are beating my instructors!”
Austin Dickson, 12, of Aurora, was a winner who collected lots of change and six rings.
Austin smiled while estimating he gathered one or two dollars of change.
“You had to get a lot of breath and then try to stay under for a long time,” Austin said of being underwater for 30 seconds.
Throughout the day lifeguards and guests participated in water games like lifeguard relays with rescue tube, swimming relays and treading water contest.
Zach Arseneau, 8, of Aurora, decided to try the relay game thanks to the penny toss earlier.
“It made me get in there,” Zach said. And in the end, his kid team beat the lifeguards.
Lifeguards at Splash Country were on top of their game. They would periodically stand to do the Elephant Scan—moving their arms and heads in sync to scan the pool area to make sure people were safe.
According to Jerica Hughes, Chicago area manager for Jeff Ellis Management, LLC, lifeguards are required to do three days of 24-hour training. This includes lifeguard rescues, CPR, conscious and unconscious care and first aid.
“It’s a very thorough, in-depth class,” Hughes said.
Ellis and Associates, a training program, certifies lifeguards. Those interested in the lifeguard job must be 15 years old or older.
Lifeguard-to-swimmer ratio depends on the facility, Hughes said, noting that at Vaughn Athletic Center there has to be two lifeguards if there are five or more people in the competition pool.
“If it’s opening hours—our operations hours are from 12 to 7—we always have all guards up,” Hughes said of Splash Country and Phillips Park.
On Saturday at Splash Country, Conlin said that there were a total of 13 lifeguards on site. Ages of guards vary from 15 years old to 22 years old.
Hughes said that the three Fox Valley Park District water facilities are open three months in a year and serious incidents where lifeguards step in are “maybe” between five and 10.
This could be a “spinal incident,” or when first aid is required.
The Fox Valley Park District has not had a drowning since Jeff Ellis Management became part of their facilities in 2004, Hughes said.
“I know that they have rescues periodically where they would see a swimmer struggling and they’re proactive,” Jeff Long, public relations manager of Fox Valley Park District. “And they’ll go address the situation before it becomes more serious.”