Editor‘s note: Kelly Krag-Arnold has been a lifeguard at the UC Davis Recreational Pool for over two years. This is her perspective as an employee.
It‘s 110 degrees outside in Davis, my air conditioning has been broken for days and the thermostat in my apartment is steadily creeping toward the triple digits. Man am I glad to head to work at the UC Davis Rec Pool!
It‘s easy to overlook the lifeguards at the Rec Pool. We hide out under umbrellas in hopes of avoiding as much sun as possible – and to ward off future bouts with skin cancer. Life at the Rec Pool – short for Recreational Pool – is not quite as dramatic as you might imagine after watching “Baywatch.“ We certainly do more than just work on our tans: us lifeguards and head guards can be found yelling at kids to walk and the grown adults who dive into three feet of water, scooping poop out of the pool and repairing dozens of bloody toes.
The Rec Pool, often described as a “meat market“ during spring quarter – mainly due to testosterone induced diving board competitions watched by scantily clad UC Davis students – transforms during the summer to include lap swimmers, summer campers, families, a lone, a fearless duck and of course the requisite UC Davis students.
The Rec Pool has that certain summery atmosphere to it during this time of year. The staff survives off Otter Pops from the office freezer while the testosterone fest at the diving boards is punctuated by small children being convinced to make the leap by anxious parents waiting in the water below.
What keeps the droves of kids coming? “The diving boards,“ said May Lan, age seven.
“Touching the bottom of the deep end,“ said Trey, age six, in the Youth Programs Rectopia camp.
Milt Williams, a senior communication major and UC Davis Youth Programs camp counselor, said he too enjoys life under the Rec Pool sun.
“It‘s a great place to enjoy the sun and meet people,“ Williams said.
Ask any Rec Pool staff member and they‘ll tell you it‘s not all just fun in the sun. It‘s not entirely surprising to see a lifeguard leap in the pool for a red shirt drill – a mock drowning initiated by student managers.
“Jumping in for a double redshirt when it‘s cold is definitely not my favorite,“ said Lauren Henning, recent UC Davis alumna.
“People not listening and scooping poop [out of the pool],“ said Matt Barret, also a lifeguard, about the list of less satisfying aspects of working at the pool.
But the dynamic patrons and laidback atmosphere keep the staff, and patrons, happy. Henning said her favorite part about the Rec Pool is that it is “chill and easy going“ and many of the female employees place the “cute diver boys“ as a staff favorite.
Personally, I love my job – the uniform is a swimsuit, my workspace is outside surrounded by water and happy swimmers and my co-workers are fun fellow students.
While the pool offers some serious family fun we still manage to maintain the distinct college feel (read: chill, relaxed and fun) thanks to the student half of the Davis population.
The Rec Pool is open every day until Oct. 11 Monday through Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m., Friday through Sunday noon to 7 p.m. and is free to active students and ARC members.
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.