The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Forest Park Aquatic Center head lifeguard Nick Beeson, a 17-year-old senior at Noblesville High School, learned to swim at age 7 and had many of his lessons at the aquatic center. He worked in the concession stand and at the front desk before he was old enough to be a lifeguard.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Forest Park Aquatic Center head lifeguard Nick Beeson, a 17-year-old senior at Noblesville High School, learned to swim at age 7 and had many of his lessons at the aquatic center. He worked in the concession stand and at the front desk before he was old enough to be a lifeguard.
The start of classes on Thursday at Noblesville Schools also means some changes in weekday hours at Forest Park Aquatic Center.
Noblesville families can still cool off in the local pool but it will be after school.
“With the kids getting out later, now it affects when they can get to the pool to work,” said Kim Bowling, the aquatic center’s director, of her lifeguards, who are mainly high school students. (Starting this school year, Noblesville High School will start and end about an hour later, in session 8:40 a.m. to 3:40 p.m.)
Pool hours, as of Thursday, will be reduced to 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the pool will only be open for Tiny Tots, during which the baby pool and splash pad are open 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Weekend hours will remain the same, noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Labor Day, the pool will be open noon to 7 p.m., then closes for the season.
This week’s break in the heatwave is also welcoming to the pool staff.
“The last two weeks with the heat, we have had days where we were busy but not as crowded as you would think. I think it’s just too hot to just sit outside.”
During the recent hot weather, she offered a thank you to her lifeguards. “This last week has been brutal with the temperatures, yet they still show up day after day without complaint and sit in this heat. Thanks to our patrons for being so understanding, while we give them a guard break during these temps. It’s greatly appreciated by all.”
While the hours will be shortened, plenty of lifeguards will still be on duty keeping the waters safe.
Lifeguards at Forest Park Aquatic Center watch out for kids who enter the zero-entry baby pool and get into the deeper end before they’re aware.
They watch for kids who get on Fast Freddy waterslide to find water over their heads at the bottom of the slide.
And they watch for kids who dive off of the springboards into the diving pool and struggle to reach the side.
During Forest Park Aquatic Center’s 2018 summer pool season, there were about 180 “saves,” which means “jumping in and helping kids get to the side in diving and at the bottom of Fast Freddy and in the baby pool,” Bowling said.
She said, “This is not out of the norm, and although 180 seems alarming, guards may be quick to jump, and the swimmer will ask, ‘Why did you?’”
In 2018, there were only two incidents where EMS had to be called due to minor medical issues.
Lifeguards constantly watch for signs of struggles in the water.
One summer day at the pool, we watched as a lifeguard perched beside the diving pool noticed a young female swimmer appearing to struggle, and the guard quickly jumped into the water to make sure the child had safely reached the edge of the pool, while the mom had a question on her face.
“We’d rather get in and save them, and they (would) be perfectly fine,” said Nick Beeson, one of five head lifeguards at the aquatic center, who sat on his tall guard chair keeping an eye on swimminers in the adjacent Olympic-size pool.
What do lifeguards look for? “Emotion and distress,” said Beeson, who watches faces closely. He does five to 10 saves per day.
Beeson, who learned to swim at age 7 and had many of his lessons at the aquatic center, hopes for a career in law enforcement. The 17-year-old, a senior at NHS, is in his second year guarding and is among five head guards at the aquatic center. There’s usually one or two head guards per shift. “We’re training to become managers,” said Beeson, who also worked in the concession stand and at the front desk before he was old enough to be a lifeguard.
In Indiana, lifeguards must be at least 15 years old and pass certain swimming requirements and lifeguarding, CPR and First Aid certifications.
Bowling said there is definitely a shortage of lifeguards and a lot of pools are struggling to staff their pools. “Fortunately for us, I have a lot of my swimmers working as guards and the kids can be lifeguard certified at Noblesville High School during the school free of charge,” she said. If someone would like to be certified with American Red Cross, it would cost $350, she said.
Lifeguards are hired each April with many returning staff members. A minimum of 10 staff members are needed to open the facility with an additional four for front desk and concessions.
“Most of the kids start in concessions as their first job and move to guarding when 15 and certified,” Bowling said.
Friends of Central Pool, a nonprofit that manages the aquatic center, is also managing Morse Beach again this year. Aquatic center membership includes admission to the beach, located at Morse Beach Park north of Noblesville, near 196th Street and Hague Road.
The beach will be open, after today, only on weekends through Labor Day.
Bowling said, “(The) beach has been great and consistently busy which is a huge relief for us.”
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.