Over the summer, I spend my time sitting by a pool, catching a nice tan, applying sunblock repeatedly (as everyone should). Although I am not doing it for leisure, I am doing it for a job. I am a lifeguard at my local town pool.
I started working there when I was sixteen years old. Every summer, I would be working forty hours a week at this pool. Most of the time the job is relatively easy. All you need to do is sit in the lifeguard chair and watch the water, but when it is time to make a save you need to be ready to quickly respond.
I have saved over 15 people in the course of my lifeguarding career. For some people, this may seem like nothing, but when you are a lifeguard this is a very high number for only four summers. My first save was my second day on the job. I am sitting at the station where the diving boards are, making sure to do a good job because I want to impress my boss. This man in his twenties is walking on the board looking as nervous as a bride on her wedding day. His friends were chanting for him to jump, and when he did, he had the look of fear in his eyes. The man started splashing his arms and yelling help, and this is where my panic set in. I have yet to make a real save, but I knew that this was the time. As I jumped in and swam to him, I began to think of the logistics. This man is over six-foot-tall and he easily weighs over two hundred pounds, and I am a 5’3” and weigh less than 140 pounds.
Fortunately, I was able to save him, and I brought him to the wall. Even though I was drowning myself. The man thanked me and then went right back in the pool where he could stand. And this made me think. Why do people who know they can’t swim go off the diving boards? Why do people risk their lives for the thrill of activities? Is it because they love the feeling of adrenaline? Is it because they know that there is someone there that could help them if need be? Is it because of peer pressure? Or are they not even thinking at all? I still to this day cannot figure out exactly why people do this, even after my fourteen other saves.