Jacksonville teens undergo lifeguard training

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published April 11, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 10, 2013 at 11:42 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Brad Ruple, center, and Colton Towles, right, secure Diane Novotny while practicing a spinal injury backboard rescue in the pool at the Jacksonville Community Center.

— The Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Center is creating the opportunity for teens in the area to find a summer job, along with having the chance to save lives.

Diane Novotny, aquatics manager at the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Center, is training lifeguards for summer 2013 at the center in Jacksonville.

Novotny has been working in the pool since 1993 and said being a lifeguard teaches teens how to be attentive.

“Lifeguarding teaches a lot of skills,” Novotny said. “You’re constantly scanning and looking for problems that could happen.”

Swimming skills take precedence in the test to become a lifeguard.

“We offer a pretest, and it’s done on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Novotny said. “If they need help, I have water-safety instructors to make them more comfortable in the water.”

Lifeguard candidates must be able to pass the pretest to qualify for the course offered at the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Center.

A complete list of pretest tasks can be found at: www.cityofjacksonville.net.

Lifeguarding classes at the Jacksonville Parks and Recreation Center, with the help of the American Red Cross, are offered every spring, and two more sessions are available.

“We do three sessions a year, and if there’s a need, we do more,” Novotny said.

A session is offered in March, April and May. The remaining sessions start Saturday and Sunday and go through April 20-21. The May session is May 3-5.

The cost is $250, which includes books and materials and the certifications.

At the end of each session, participants receive lifeguard certifications, which are good for two years, Novotny said. CPR certifications, which must be renewed every year, also are received at the end of each course.

Novotny said the sessions give her a chance to see the students’ progress.

“A lot of the kids come in and don’t even really have good swim skills,” Novotny said. “Then I see them make the saves and [they] understand what’s happening from the beginning.”

The lifeguard certification is transferable, and Novotny said she keeps her eyes out for potential lifeguards for the Jacksonville pool while she is training lifeguards.

“If I see a really good lifeguard, I’ll see if they have a pool to work at this summer,” Novotny said. She said she encourages those lifeguards to fill out an application to work for the Jacksonville pool.

Sometimes the teenagers don’t completely understand what lifeguarding entails, Novotny said.

“When they complete the session, they have a different interpretation of what lifeguarding actually is,” she said.

More information about the 2013 lifeguard training is available at www.cityofjacksonville.net.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett is available at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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