News: Keeler lifeguards pool their weight
Story by Sgt. Zachary Gardner
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – It looks like fun sitting in the big chair next to the swimming pool, watching people play and blowing a whistle when someone gets out of hand, but becoming a lifeguard might be harder than you think.
For six soldiers training to be lifeguards at the Keeler Pool, passing the two-week Military Lifeguard Course that began March 18 involved more than just learning how to blow a whistle.
Just to get into the course, the soldiers had to swim 500 meters - nearly five football fields – in less than 13 minutes. Out of the 28 soldiers who tried out, only 18 passed the initial screening process.
By the time the course is over, they will be able to complete the sprint in less than 10 minutes, said Brian Sweetman Jr., an Anchorage, Alaska, native and supervisory sports specialist at the Keeler Pool.
Once in the class, soldiers spent hours swimming up and down the lanes focusing on improving their efficiency and effectiveness. They then trained to properly entering the water during a rescue learned various lifesaving techniques, like CPR and oxygen administration.
The soldiers learned many new skills during the course, and they will need to know how to use them.
They need to be able to swim to where a victim is drowning and extract them safely, said Sweetman.
If they are too tired or cannot focus, there will be two people to rescue instead of one.
Outside of Combat Water Survival Training, most soldiers don’t spend that much time in the water. But these lifeguard trainees are used to getting wet.
“We do all of the waterborne operations for the long-range surveillance company, so this training is extremely beneficial to us because we are constantly in the water,” said Sgt. 1st Class Channing Rosenbalm, a Tacoma, Wash., resident and platoon sergeant with 3rd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.
“It’s a very useful skill to have if you spend a lot of time in or around the water,” said Rosenbalm. “You need to know how to save your life or someone else’s life if something goes wrong.”
Upon completion of the course, the soldiers will fill open lifeguard positions at the Keeler Pool where they will help train and safeguard other soldiers and civilians.