Most people don’t want to be out of bed that early, let alone in the less-than-tepid water of a swimming pool.
But when it comes to her schedule as a lifeguard for the City of Manteca, Ashleigh Tschetter – a recent Manteca High graduate who has been prowling the plaster of Lincoln Pool for the last three summers – prefers the morning swim lesson sessions.
On one hand, it frees her up so that she can go out with her friends and enjoy what little daylight remains. On the other, it’s a reprieve from the stifling summer heat that the concrete seems to draw in like a magnet. On the other, sleeping is one of the things that she says she does best, and it’s hard to do that when you have to be up early and down at the pool.
One thing, regardless of scheduling, remains constant – she loves working with kids. Swimming might have been why she got into lifeguarding originally, but it’s the kids that has kept her there.
The Bulletin sat down with Tschetter to find out what she loves about the water and how best to beat the heat:
You’ve been a lifeguard for the last three summers. What keeps bringing you back?
“The kids. I love seeing their little smiles. They’re always so cheerful and their little faces are always so happy. Getting to help them with their lessons is the best part of the day.”
What’s the most difficult part of the job?
“Always having to be on your game. You’re always scanning and looking for something. We typically have to get into the water for something once a week, but you have to be ready for something at any time regardless of how calm things might seem.”
There seems to be a fraternity among swimmers. What it is about people who spend so much time in the water together?
“I think that when you’re working out with somebody for as long as we do you see each other’s strengths and weaknesses and you’re able to point those out. That makes you better, and closer.”
I had a friend that swam competitively all of his life, and even flirted with the Olympics. But the ocean scared him to death. Is open water something that bothers you?
“It’s not open water – it’s sharks. I don’t like swimming in the ocean.”
There have been several movies with popular public pool scenes. Caddyshack had one that was famous for what ended up in the water whereas The Sandlot focused on who was guarding the water. Do you have a favorite?
“I loved The Sandlot.”
Regardless of how hot it gets you guys still have to come in to work. How do you beat the heat?
“You drink lots and lots of water. And use sunscreen. That’s a big part of every day.”
How to stay entertained when you’re sitting up on the chair for such a long period of time?
“You try and keep moving for as long as you can, and watch the kids and as many people as possible instead of just focusing on one spot. We have squirt guns that we use but you shouldn’t put that – I’m not sure that we’re supposed to use those.”
A lot of lifeguards come back year-after-year or even come back when in college. Do you get to know the families of the kids well?
“It’s a lot of fun when you have the same kids that keep coming back every year. Sometimes the families get really involved with the program, and other times they don’t. But working with the kids is the best part of my day.”