On any given day at the Ellis Kinney Municipal Pool, children can be seen swimming, diving, talking, getting a treat and sunbathing.
Keeping an eye on all this activity are the lifeguards. A group of students specially trained to come to the aid of anyone who needs help, said Tracy Trimpe, pool manager.
Lifeguards have to meet certain requirements before they can take their place on the stands and look after the safety of the children and anyone else at the pool.
The requirements include: Filling out an application, being able to swim, pass the lifeguard class, know CPR, know first aid and be at least 15, Trimpe said.
Lifeguards also have to like little kids and get along with people.
Almost every lifeguard is or was a student at Pratt or Skyline High School. Many come back and lifeguard during the summer after they start college.
Besides acting as lifeguards for the afternoon swim sessions, this dedicated group of people has a very long day with lifeguard duties outside the regular hours plus other duties as well.
The day starts early with guarding for the swim team practice at 7:30 a.m. Then the lifeguards do cleaning from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. before giving swim lessons form 9:30 a.m. to noon. Cleaning includes clearing any debris from the pool, cleaning the restrooms, pulling weeds and doing any necessary repairs.
The city handles any major repairs at the pool.
The adult swimming class does "aqua zoomba" from noon to one then the open swim runs from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The pool has eight lifeguards on duty with six watching the pool at all times. The lifeguards rotate around the pool every 15 to 20 minutes and the entire crew gets regular 15-minute breaks when everyone has to get out of the pool.
Whatever is happening at the pool, a lifeguard is always on duty to keep everyone safe. Not all the lifeguards are on duty all the time. Some have two jobs but Trimpe works around those conflicts.
Elizabeth Ash is working her fourth year at the pool and she has truly earned the title lifeguard. During her time at the pool she has saved four people from drowning.
One child in particular still sticks in her mind. Some how this child, that could not swim, managed to get into the deep end of the pool.
Only his hands were above the water when Ash jumped in and pulled him to safety. She sat with the child until he stopped crying. He was OK and Ash said it was a special moment for her.
"I felt needed," Ash said. "I felt very special."
Her lifeguard career started like many other lifeguards. She needed a summer job. She applied in January and it was a good fit for her. She likes kids because they are fun, nice and cute.
The hardest part of the job for Ash is the monotony. Most of the time a lifeguard is at their post and doesn't do much more than blow the occasional whistle when a child does something they shouldn't. Sitting in the heat also takes a toll on her.
Before he job at the pool, she used to pull rye out of wheat fields for farmers so she knows about hard work. For the most part, being a lifeguard is one of the easiest jobs she has had.
Alexa Hoss is in her third year working at the pool. Some older friends told her it was a good job and a place to get a good tan. But Hoss has discovered the most important reason to become a lifeguard.
"You can save someone's life," Hoss said.
Hoss already enjoyed the water and swam a lot. She said the best part was getting to work outside and not working inside. She also liked the opportunity to get a tan.
The hardest part of the job for her is knowing that something serious could happen and she would be in charge.
All in all she is happy in her job and encourages others to get involved.
"It's a good job for a high school student. I recommend it," Hoss said. "It's a good beginning job but it requires a lot of learning."
Eric Swindle grew up in California and Hawaii so he was always around water and enjoyed swimming so becoming a lifeguard was an obvious choice for him.
"I was always around water so I thought it would be a good job," Swindle said.
His dad Richard Swindle knew Trimpe so that gave him a connection to the pool.
His favorite part of being a lifeguard is giving swimming lessons to children. The hardest part for him is punishing them when they break a rule.
"It's one of those things you have to do," Swindle said.