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Swim program teaches basic skills for future certification
Junior lifeguards learn the proper technique for swimming using a floatation device at the Pitman High School pool on Monday. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN/ The Journal

Aspiring future life guards learn skills that can someday prevent an aquatic tragedy in Turlock Recreation Division’s Junior Lifeguard program. The three-week class is focused on teaching 11 to 15 year olds skills they will need for future lifeguard training and certification.

Lifeguards can’t take the certification class until they are 15 years old, and Junior Lifeguard was designed to give them a foundation of basic lifeguard skills.

Students start some days by watching a training video. Then they hit the Pitman High School pool to practice the skills they learned. On Monday, junior lifeguards practiced swimming to and from a drowning victim using a float. Their swim instructor, Haley Fagundes, played the part of the drowning victim. She said that basic lifeguard skills can help junior lifeguards get their foot in the door to being a lifeguard.

“This was the first day, but I’m really impressed with the way things are going so far. I’m very happy with their progress,” Fagundes said of her new group of junior lifeguards.

After junior lifeguards complete their three-week course they are invited to shadow certified lifeguards. Karen Packwood, aquatics supervisor, said the volunteer time spent with lifeguards can show junior lifeguards what it’s like to work in an organization, and it teaches them teamwork and customer service.

“Our goal really is to give them that foundation,” Packwood said.

Junior Lifeguard is for youth ages 11 to 15 who are already experienced swimmers. Packwood said that there is no swim test to join, but participants should be able to swim freestyle for multiple lengths of the pool. Turlock Recreation also offers swim classes for swimmers at all levels.

Both Junior Lifeguard and swim lessons are still open for enrollment. Junior Lifeguard started on Monday, but Packwood said that students can still sign up by calling 668-5594. The class meets from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Pitman High School pool.

To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.