Be Inspired Series
Waves Leisure Complex, Lurgan
What does your role involve?
My role as a Lifeguard is quite varied. Our main purpose is to educate people about water safety and to prevent accidents in and around the pool. We have to work as a team at all times, so we train once a week so everyone is comfortable working as part of a team. Training is very important to a lifeguard for the simple reason you need to know exactly what to do in an emergency and when to do it.
How did you get into the position in the first place?
I was always into swimming when I was younger, I have always enjoyed being around water so working as a lifeguard has always been something I was interested in. I applied for the job and thankfully got it. I think it was a natural progression for me to end up doing what I do.
Did you always want to work in the leisure sector in some capacity?
Yeah, I have some watersports instructor awards and also my fitness instructor award so for the past 10 years I have been working towards getting a job in leisure, it suits my personality to the ground. I am not a person for sitting behind a desk all day.
What training or previous experience do you have that has helped you in your current role?
Over the years I have always been in jobs that involves working with the public, this has been a fantastic help for me in my current role as I am dealing with the public all day, every day. I feel it takes a certain person to work with the public; you need to be outgoing and on some occasions very thick skinned. I also work for Belfast Coastguard on Lough Neagh, the training and experience I get in this job is very beneficial and can be transferred over to my role as a lifeguard.
What is your leisure centre's role in the local community?
Waves, which is run by Craigavon Borough Council, plays a big role in the local community for people of all ages. People come from every background to meet up, participate in sport, or train together and also to socialize in our café. We also have a number of groups that use our centre on a weekly and daily basis for all sorts of activities. Waves is well used and well loved.
And how does your role fit in as part of this?
My role in all this is to help anyone with any queries or problems they are having, in a fitness sense! People like to have a friendly face they can come to if they need any questions answered.
In times of economic downturn, do you believe people have the disposable income to visit leisure centres? Is your centre doing anything to make it financially easier for people to avail of the services?
Craigavon Borough Council already subsidises charges at Waves and is always looking at ways that they can both promote sport for all the family. Throughout the summer the council runs a number of promotions like two swims for the price of one; and various voucher discount schemes through the Craigavon Living Magazine.
What sort of personality and qualities do you need to do your job successfully?
You definitely need to be a 'people person'. You need to be able to keep your concentration for long periods of time and you need to be active. I also think you need to be very outgoing and able to talk to anyone. You also need to be authoritative on some occasions.
What are the biggest rewards of the job? And the biggest challenges?
The biggest rewards would be helping people who want to get fit or lose weight, when you see the people benefiting from the advice you have give them, it is quite rewarding. It is also very rewarding when you pull someone out of the pool who is having difficulties or gets into difficulties, thankfully this does not happen too often. The biggest challenges would be making the right decision at the right time, but again, all your training helps you make the right decision.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
If you fall seven times get up eight.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to work as a lifeguard?
First of all you have to decide you are the right person for doing this kind of work. If you know, go along to your nearest leisure centre and talk to some of the lifeguards about their job. Keep your fitness up and work hard to get your pool lifeguard qualification. It's an extremely rewarding job.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
Outside of work I really enjoy taking part in watersports such as sailing, water skiing, wakeboarding and canoeing. I love the outdoors and I am very keen on bushcraft. I try to get up the mountains as much as I possibly can. I am also about to become a father for the first time in December so my child will be joining me in my camping expeditions.