- Associated Press - Friday, June 3, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Bryan Park Pool’s 50 lifeguards are trained to recognize the signs of a struggling swimmer.

Walter Friesel put his training to good use Wednesday afternoon. He noticed a pair of girls swimming near his lifeguard station were having difficulty treading water in some of the deeper areas of the pool. While continuing to scan the entire pool area, the lifeguard kept a watchful eye on the young swimmers.

“Their swimming technique was not very effective,” said Friesel, who recently graduated from Bloomington High School North. “They could keep their heads above water, but that’s about it.”

One of the girls began having difficulty reaching the side of the pool and called out to her friend for help. Grace Maxey, a staff manager at Bryan Park Pool, said it can take a few weeks for a new lifeguard to feel comfortable blowing the whistle at rule-breakers and diving into potentially dangerous situations.

That wasn’t the case for 18-year-old Friesel.

Friesel helped the girl to the pool wall and explained that a less-experienced or tired swimmer should stick to the shallow end. The “rescue” was one of the summer’s first, but certainly won’t be its last.

“Once I actually jumped in, it just became second nature,” Friesel said. “I surprised myself a little bit.”

All Bryan Park Pool lifeguards are required to be trained by the American Red Cross, and re-certified every two years. Training includes a lesson in providing CPR and requiring the lifeguards to swim 2 miles over the course of every week of work at the pool.

“I don’t want anything to happen and them not to know how to handle it,” said Chelsea Burris, Bryan Park Pool’s aquatic program coordinator.

The guards also have to check safety equipment and slides, clean pool filters, run the pool vacuum and restock the concession stand. And, for their own safety, the lifeguards reapply sunscreen every two hours.

“It’s a fun summer job,” said Maxey, who will be a junior at Indiana University this fall. “You get to be outside and be tan.”

The two city pools, Bryan Park and Mills Pool, opened last week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

As pool season gets underway, Friesel reminds swimmers, tanners, kids and supervising adults to follow instructions from his co-workers in red.

The lifeguards have to protect everyone at the pool, so those accompanying young swimmers should especially be sure to keep track of their kids.

“The smaller you are and the deeper you get, the more trouble you’re going to have,” Friesel said. “If you know they’re not a strong swimmer, keep an eye on them.”

And, of course, Friesel emphasized the importance of the rule most often broken, which is sure to prompt a blown whistle: “Don’t run.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/22AULFV

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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