Son, I’ve decided to become a lifeguard

My kids are both Nippers at Titahi Bay Surf Life Saving Club. Most weekends over summer you’ll find me either in the water being a human buoy while the younger kids wade or boogie board past a group of us parents, or at a competition–we call them carnivals–wrangling a group of twelve year olds, making sure they’re at the right event and doing stuff like holding their towels.

It’s actually quite fun. It’s a fantastic sport for parents. Much better than cricket or rugby. I get to the beach often. I have a great excuse to be in the sea. There are cheap beers and really good hot chips at the club afterwards.

As my eldest has gotten older his commitment to the sport means I’ve spent longer periods at the beach, more often. He swims a long way. He paddles further. He gets to ride fun waves. This year I’ve found myself more than a little jealous.

There’s really nothing stopping me from getting involved more with the sport. And the easiest, best way is to become a lifeguard. So that’s what I’m doing along with a bunch of other people at the club, including my kid’s mum. We’re calling ourselves the Crustaceans.

The surf lifeguard award requires demonstration of quite a few things: tube rescues, sea swimming, first aid. The biggest hurdle to me is a timed pool swim: 400m in under nine minutes.

We did a benchmark swim last weekend. My time was 10:49. That’s a hell of a lot of time to cut off but I do have six months to get it done. We’ve enlisted the help of another club member to get our swimming technique right and we’ve committed to swimming three times a week at least. Just with the couple tips I learned on the weekend I can already feel a difference and I’m pretty confident that working on technique will take me a long way towards my goal.

I intend to keep writing about all parts of lifeguard training here. For now it’s entirely swimming, but things will really come to life around August.

I’m really looking forward to getting back into the sea. To learn about helping people in the water. To swim really far and paddle further. It’s going to be fun.