MS. REBECCA SHEIR
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
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
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.
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.
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.
And Rudnick gets it. Not too long ago, he was one of those kids.
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.
Rudnick gestures to a ping-pong table where we meet Sean Clackston (sp?) , a lanky 13 year-old in braces.
Would you consider yourself a pool rat?
MR. SEAN CLACKSTON
Yes, I would. I like being called it because I am here every day.
We walk into the lifeguard office where there's half a chocolate birthday cake with purple icing.
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.
It's pretty much the best job ever, says one of Rudnick's guards, Tyler Wooster.
MR. TYLER WOOSTER
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.
Devin, what do you think about that? Do you concur?
I really wish I didn't hear that, to be honest.
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.
You can kind of tell who's tired, how well they can swim. It's like a lifeguard's sixth sense.
Earlier this summer, Rudnick says, there was a big birthday party and one of the kids went down the slide into the deep end.
I'm not entirely sure if he was able to swim at all.
His arms were splashing and he was tilting his head back, gasping for air.
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.
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.
Are you refreshed?
Indeed. I like to go to the bottom of well. It's like an ice pit down there, it's awesome.
Jumping in the pool, he says, is one of lifeguarding's greatest perks.
It's a job where I can be myself. I'm that lifeguard guy.
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.
For a map of all the public pools in the District, Maryland and Virginia, visit us at metroconnection.org.
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