Hi guys!

July 16 – 22 is drowning prevention week in Canada this year. So I thought I would do a AMA.

A little bit about me, I have been working as a Lifeguard and Water Safety Instructor for over a year. I work for two municipality’s guarding and teaching swimming lessons and Lifesaving programs. I have taught hundreds of people swimming and water safety from babies to adults and everyone in-between.

I suggest taking a look at this memo from the Lifesaving Society which has some very cool facts about drowning.

If you would like to learn more about drowning in Canada you can read the 2017 Canadian Drowning Report here or visit the Lifesaving Society’s website at http://www.lifesavingsociety.com/

Proof 1 Proof 2

Comments: 1197 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

fuckshantel515 karma

I'm 19 and I still haven't learned how to swim. Is it too late for me?

Exponan670 karma

Never to late, I've meet an instructor that taught two 80 year old women how to swim. Talk to your local pool about adult beginner classes. Your not alone.

leocollier98384 karma

Fellow lifeguard here... what's your uniform preference: Navy or Bright red?

Exponan360 karma

The one municipality I work for uses Red Shirts for guards and Navy Blue for Supervisors. I'd love to wear Navy Blue sometimes lol

But Bright Red for guards ;)

Other pool I work at uses green guard shirts.

ThatOneOtherAsshole22 karma

Current lifeguard sitting in the guard office right now on my phone. Navy blue all the way.

leocollier9832 karma

Ew... don't you have a bathroom to clean or a pool deck to sweep 😂

Exponan21 karma

You always hose deck, what is this sweeping?

LauraSolo23283 karma

What is your opinion on those people that think throwing young children in a pool will "teach" them to swim? Happened to me and I almost drowned, but friends of mine have said that's how they learned.

Exponan469 karma

That is a horrible way to introduce or teach someone to swim. That tends to instill a fear that takes a lot of time to get rid of.

Everything swimming is taught in progressions, one of those progressions is starting shallow and working your way deeper and deeper.

It is never the instructors decision on how fast the swimmer progresses, it is up to the swimmer. Comfort level is huge and a major part of my job is building trust. Kids trust me and if I erode that trust by taking them to deep water before they are ready they will regress. I've seen it happen before.

seaandra43 karma

As an instructor, I think this is one of the worst ways to do it. Teaching progressions is honestly the way to go.

Exponan19 karma

Yep! Progressions are the best.

gasoline-rainbows224 karma

My nanny kid is 3 and has been taking swim classes since he was 6 months. He still refuses to put his head underwater. Any advice?

Exponan302 karma

I play alot of games with aims in my preschool classes. Each game is designed to develop rhythmic breathing (bubbles) and submersion (eyes in). It's building that comfort level and I'll just take time.

Take him to the pool and practice at home in the bathtub. Use progressions and try and break it up into easy steps. For example start with dumping a little bit of water on the top of his head and let it drip to his eyes, cup your hands and have him put his eyes in, fill a small bucket and have him put his eyes in.

Hope this helps a bit!

SquirrelMetaphor190 karma

Are there certain people that just cannot learn to swim?

Exponan252 karma

There are those kids that some instructors say swimming is not their sport; but I believe everyone can learn to swim. Swimming requires a lot of practice to develop muscle memory and proper technique. There are many different learner types so sometimes skills aren’t picked up right away, so as instructors we are trained in many different ways to teach so it applies to all learner types. Some times kids just don’t get it till you say or do something different then it clicks.

rudecrudetattooed-122 karma

Kids with autism

Exponan110 karma

I have taught kids with autism as well as taken a Workshop on Supporting Children with ASD in Recreational Settings. They can and do learn how to swim. You just have to teach in a different way and find out how they learn.

redditkilledmygpa134 karma

Shout out to all my fellow Fox 40 blowers.

Is there really another whistle out there worth owning?

Exponan70 karma

No, Fox 40 is the way to go. Own 3 and I'm looking to buy more colors!

Myc0s119 karma

How do I prevent water from getting in my eyes when I'm in the shower?

Exponan226 karma

Dive mask / googles.

Myc0s143 karma

You want me to use Googles in the shower? Won't my phone get wet?

Exponan224 karma

Large hamster ball is the way to go then.

elevatormusicon99 karma

Swim Instructor here! Love my job but I find that the parents are the hardest part

How do you convince parents that swimming is not just a sport but rather a life skill?

Exponan125 karma

Would your child be able to survive an unexpected fall in to deep water?

And bringing up Drowning statistics like "In Canada, drowning is the No. 1 cause of unintentional injury deaths among children 1-4 years of age, and the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years."

Puts swimming into perspective for a lot of parents.

Treereme40 karma

Do you know what the number one preventable cause of death is?

Exponan61 karma

Car crashes I believe.

the_awkward_turtle_87 karma

I'm a lifeguard currently on my break at the pool!

For what reasons have you seen lifeguards get fired? I had a couple of guys jump off the roof of a building into the pool after their shift, recorded them doing it and put it on snapchat. They got fired so fast.

Exponan106 karma

Kids drowning in their classes where a Lifeguard has to jump in, and not jumping in during an obvious drowning where a guard had to run down from the top of the water slide and still got there first.

seaandra63 karma

Hey! I've been a WSI for over 5 years now! Do you like LSS or Red Cross programs more?

Exponan73 karma

In BC we teach Red Cross programs because LSS and Red Cross made a deal. Red Cross runs lessons and LSS does guarding. So I have never taught LSS swim lessons.

I think the Red Cross Preschool program should be broken up into more levels to make easier progressions and so parents don't feel like they are getting ripped of if their kid incompletes.

I am a big fan of LSS programs though.

DPanther_54 karma

Fellow lifeguard here.

Why did you become a lifeguard/instructor?

Exponan58 karma

I have always loved swimming after starting from a very early age. My parents encouraged me to go and take my Bronze Medallion and Cross. Towards the end of High School, I decided it would be a good job so I finished the rest of my certifications.

Gayyymer48 karma

How long can you hold your breath under water?

Exponan76 karma

Not sure how long but I have swam 25m ~ without coming up for air.

grandkids1234574 karma

At first I though you meant minutes and I was like "Holy Fucking shit dude!"

Exponan35 karma

When you sprout gills and never come out of the water...

mucocele26 karma

What was the scariest on-the-job situation you've ever been in?

Exponan30 karma

Nothing to scary but anything that happens that requires a 911 call.

There was this kid that wouldn't stop coughing, I got a radio call to go check on them in families. When I got there mom said he'd been coughing for half an hour before they notified the front desk staff. I took him to the guard room where the other guards dealt with it while I went back out on deck. He ending up having difficulty breathing and coughed so much he started to throw up.

The other is when I finished lessons and was off. I was with a bunch of other guards in front of the guard room when one of the other guards noticed this lady had fallen on the stairs, she ended up going unconsciousness briefly. Fastest response time from ambulance that I've ever seem like 1-3 minutes.

Lots off scary stuff happens when I'm not at work though, always fun to hear about.

greezyweezy19 karma

Why can't I tread water?

Exponan33 karma

Improper technique? Hard to say without looking. Are you using egg beater? Try big, wide, slow movements to increase surface area and not tired yourself out.

personaldistance18 karma

How do you feel about Ellis&Associates?

Exponan15 karma

The Lifesaving Society has taken Ellis & Associates 10/20 Patron Protection Rule and has adapted it to the 10-30 scan rule that we use in Canada.

I don't know a lot about Ellis & Associates but they seem good.

-assets-16 karma

How often do you actually have to get into the water when there is a problem?

Exponan15 karma

None yet surprisingly! Though I ran to backup my other guard for a drowning none swimmer but they had already made it to the edge so I just helped pull the kid up. Lots of dry land first aids and problems though.

stoooljockey13 karma

Have you ever hired a cam girl to pretend like she's drowning (sorry)?

Exponan5 karma

Nope, lol!

squishynurse12 karma

What is your favorite kind of cheese 🧀?

Exponan14 karma

White cheddar

NoxUmbra92612 karma

I used to be a part time lifeguard and didn't find very much money in the job. How well off would you say you are compared to the satisfaction and enjoyment of the work? <-- Former lifeguard who loved his job

Exponan25 karma

I'm lucky because where I am guarding pays well. Upwards of $20 CAN an hour. I make good money and I hope to make even more as I move up positions and work longer. I love my job so much that's why I want to continue to work in Aquatics.

bigblackbrick12 karma

Hello I am a student in a school who mandatory teaches swimming and we had to swim in the 10 feet pool (i cannot swim) and now I cant stand swimming and just watching swimming videos terrifies me. Any advice for me?

Exponan21 karma

Talk to your local pool about Adult beginner or fearful Adult Lessons. Talk with your instructor about your specific goals and they will work with you to reach them. Swimming can be a hard skill to learn by yourself.

mr_wilson312 karma

What's usually the most accident/incident prone area of the pool for you?

At the pool I used to work at as a swim coach we had a wave pool that was a common place for DNS's, especially along the back wall where it was easy to jump in the water and not realize it was over their heads.

Exponan12 karma

Probably the deep end. Our guards are pretty good at preventing incidents before they become problems.

Throwaway201609270110 karma

As a current aquatics employee, I find that a lot of patrons lead with "As a former lifeguard/swim instructor" when complaining about specific policies or refunds or that sort of thing. My inner reaction is something like "no one here gives a fuck that you were a lifeguard in the 80s". Do you ever experience this sort of thing?

Exponan5 karma

Had that line told to me by a guy that was complaining about lesson plans laying on the deck being a "tripping hazard". Ok man, I'll talk to my instructors.

imfromoverseas10 karma

I'm not trained in anyway but I have saved two people from drowning before. Does the super adrenaline rush ever subside?

Exponan14 karma

Anytime I hear a whistle or during a major I still get it.

BardToTheBone9 karma

Fellow lifeguard and instructor here! Our facility is about to add a Junior Lifeguarding program for ages 12-15, and I was asked to instruct. What do you think are some of the most important things for them to know if they are interested in becoming a guard?

Edit: Thought of another question to add on. What's your favorite stroke?

Exponan9 karma

Junior Lifeguard Club is lots of fun. Building up there endurance and treading is a great idea in preparation for guarding. That seems to be the area most candidates struggle in for Bronze courses.

Scanning drills are also a lot of fun such as spotting certain objects hidden around the pool. As well as learning and hand signals to communicate with each other.

Favorite Stroke is front crawl for sprint, breast stroke for relaxing.

iTwango7 karma

Do you intentionally train lifeguards to blow their whistles at people walking slightly faster than a tortoise? :)

Exponan15 karma

lol, in Canada we don't use our whistles for rule infractions, only in emergencies or pool closures. Thats why we just yell instead :)

handlebartender7 karma

I see that all the references now seem to reference Lifesaving Society.

Is the RLSS no longer a thing?

Source: got my bronze medallion at 17 through the RLSS while living in Ontario.

Exponan8 karma

Same agency, changed their name.

Dr_MoonOrGun6 karma

Do you ever pick out kids as you're lifeguarding and think "Yeah, I guess if it came down to it, I'd let that one drown"?

Exponan7 karma

No, but it's always "That kid is going to drown" then you yell "Hey bud make sure you stay in the shallow end!".

natecage75 karma

What is the meaning of life?

Exponan17 karma


thurman_murman175 karma

Does the physics of a boner facilitate drowning?

Exponan9 karma

Do boobs make women float? 🤔

Is that also why 79% of drowning victims are male.

2gdismore3 karma

Every gone skinny dipping following lifeguarding?

Exponan3 karma


Attackfly12 karma

Fellow lifeguard here, what do recommend as a good resource to get a refresher on procedures after not having worked for a while?

Exponan3 karma

If you are a Lifesaving Society guard there are some great resource refreshers on their website (might need a member login). Manuals or practicing with co-workers.

original_greaser_bob1 karma

think you could take Michael Phelps in a fair fight?

Exponan1 karma

Probably not.

REVIGOR1 karma

Do you instruct people to carry an escape tool in their car? If so, do you have a specific tool you recommended?

Exponan2 karma

I do not, as for a tool I know you can get some good small glass breakers. Maybe look on YouTube?

hailsmarie1 karma

Fellow lifeguard/swim instructor here... which broken rule drives you the most crazy? Mine is when patrons jump off the diving platforms without signal from the guard.

Exponan2 karma

Multiple kids rushing side or stopping in the slide, swimming under bulkheads.

TooEZ_OL561 karma

Fellow head guard here!

Thoughts on Ellis & Associates?

Exponan1 karma

The Lifesaving Society has taken Ellis & Associates 10/20 Patron Protection Rule and has adapted it to the 10-30 scan rule that we use in Canada.

I don't know a lot about Ellis & Associates but they seem good.