Working A Shift With A Veteran Lifeguard (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Working A Shift With A Veteran Lifeguard

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:02
On a hot, hot day, there's nothing quite as refreshing as going for a swim. And when people head to the pool to cool off, Devin Rudnick's day starts to heat up. The 20 year-old is the head lifeguard and manager of Tally Ho Swim club in Potomac, Md. On a recent steamy afternoon, Emily Friedman joined Rudnick to find out what really goes on in the life of a lifeguard.

MS. EMILY FRIEDMAN

00:00:28
For 15 minutes out of every hour, Devin Rudnick is the least popular guy at Tally Ho Swim club. Those few minutes are adult swim, a time for the moms and the dads to swim laps and aqua-size in peace. It never goes over well with kids.

MR. DEVIN RUDNICK

00:00:45
The kids usually ask why. They always pretend to fall in, that is a very, very common occurrence, is people just falling in accidentally during adult swim.

FRIEDMAN

00:00:55
Rudnick doesn't look like a guy who's known for laying down the law. His toenails are polished to look like Skittles and he's wearing old-lady sunglasses. But in spite of his light-hearted fashion choices, he wants you to know being a lifeguard is serious business.

RUDNICK

00:01:11
Every day is kind of like, you don't know what's going to happen, just because kids are really unpredictable, especially at the pool. You definitely see a lot of kids with sugar and hormones racing and little kids are pretty weird.

FRIEDMAN

00:01:23
And Rudnick gets it. Not too long ago, he was one of those kids.

RUDNICK

00:01:27
I was a poor act growing up. Days at the pool were like 40 hour days where I would just be able to play forever and pool rats are the kids that are there from 10 o'clock in the morning to 8:30 at night every single day, pretending to be a little lifeguard. We have a couple of them here.

FRIEDMAN

00:01:44
Rudnick gestures to a ping-pong table where we meet Sean Clackston (sp?) , a lanky 13 year-old in braces.

RUDNICK

00:01:51
Would you consider yourself a pool rat?

MR. SEAN CLACKSTON

00:01:53
Yes, I would. I like being called it because I am here every day.

FRIEDMAN

00:01:57
We walk into the lifeguard office where there's half a chocolate birthday cake with purple icing.

RUDNICK

00:02:01
Lifeguards eat anything and everything. People just bring over like half a cake or bring over four boxes of pizza and they're like, we can't finish this. It's basically like throwing it to the dogs when you give it to the lifeguards.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:12
It's pretty much the best job ever, says one of Rudnick's guards, Tyler Wooster.

MR. TYLER WOOSTER

00:02:17
Sit out in the sun, swim in the pool and look at girls pass by. They can't see you looking at them with the shades on, but the eyes are still following them.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:25
Devin, what do you think about that? Do you concur?

RUDNICK

00:02:27
I really wish I didn't hear that, to be honest.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:37
Devin Rudnick blows the whistle to signal it's the end of adult swim. From his chair six feet above the shallow end, he looks out across the pool.

RUDNICK

00:02:45
You can kind of tell who's tired, how well they can swim. It's like a lifeguard's sixth sense.

FRIEDMAN

00:02:50
Earlier this summer, Rudnick says, there was a big birthday party and one of the kids went down the slide into the deep end.

RUDNICK

00:02:58
I'm not entirely sure if he was able to swim at all.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:00
His arms were splashing and he was tilting his head back, gasping for air.

RUDNICK

00:03:05
And he kept going, bobbing up and down. I just got out of the chair, walked over, jumped in and kept his head out of water and just like scissor-kicked to the side. It gets your heart pounding pretty good.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:17
15 minutes later, it's time for the lifeguards to rotate chairs. Devin has a short break so he climbs up the diving board and jumps high into the mid-afternoon sun.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:27
Are you refreshed?

RUDNICK

00:03:29
Indeed. I like to go to the bottom of well. It's like an ice pit down there, it's awesome.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:35
Jumping in the pool, he says, is one of lifeguarding's greatest perks.

RUDNICK

00:03:39
It's a job where I can be myself. I'm that lifeguard guy.

FRIEDMAN

00:03:44
And with that, he gets in line for the diving board behind Sean, the pool rat, and a six year-old in a blue rashguard wearing neon green goggles. There's time for one more dive before getting back to work. I'm Emily Friedman.

SHEIR

00:04:06
For a map of all the public pools in the District, Maryland and Virginia, visit us at metroconnection.org.
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