Herald correspondent Erik Papke spent several hours with Copperas Cove lifeguard Taylor Schwentner on Tuesday for the Cove Herald’s “A Day in the Life” series on various occupations.
I walked into the Copperas Cove City Park Pool on a bright, sunny Tuesday morning. It may have only been 10 a.m., but the thermometer was already hovering at a very warm 90 degrees.
As I sat there watching the lifeguards teach swim lessons to children of all ages, I couldn’t help but think back to my own days as a lifeguard. It may have only been three short years ago, but it felt like an eternity had gone by. Remembering all of the new friends I made that summer, and the fun days spent at the pool, brought a smile to my face. I instantly knew this was going to be a fun day.
Class in session
The swim lessons began promptly at 10 a.m.. For my lifeguard, Taylor Schwentner, that meant teaching the little kids in the shallow section of this gigantic pool. Class began in the shade of the giant “mushroom” water feature. While I couldn’t quite make out exactly what children were doing, a very audible “starfish” rang through the air. The kids looked happy, the lifeguards were laughing, and most importantly, parents and guardians were smiling from ear to ear.
“They love the swim lessons here,” said Loretta Nichols, great-grandmother to Madison, 4, and Kayden, 5. “We come every Monday through Thursday and they just can’t get enough. I have to take them back later in the day so they can swim some more.”
Time to let loose
After the 30-minute lessons were over, the real fun began. A loud whistle rang through the air and a line of excited little swimmers began to form behind the water slide. As each swimmer slid down, a lifeguard was there to catch them at the bottom. Not everyone was ready for the deep end.
With the 10-minute play time complete, parents and children began heading home. With the next set of swim lessons not starting for another 50 minutes, I talked to Schwentner about her day-to-day activities.
“Every day I do swim lessons at 10 and 11:30 a.m., then the pool opens at 1, and until 5, we have Open Swim,” Schwentner said.
The 18-year-old former Copperas Cove Bulldawg swimmer began lifeguarding and teaching swim lessons last summer.
“I like teaching swim lessons the best,” she said. “It’s fun watching them get better from week to week. It’s a really fun job. I love it.”
When not on the lifeguard stands protecting swimmers, Schwentner and the other lifeguards have other tasks to complete.
“During down time, we may get 15 minutes to relax, but otherwise, we’re manning the concession stands, cleaning bathrooms, and patrolling the pool deck,” she said. “There is a lot of responsibility with this job, but I like it.”
As another class of beginning swimmers began showing up for lessons, my time at the pool was over. Although I would have liked to take a swim myself, I forgot my swimming trunks and had to get back to work.
Cooling off in the refreshing water had to wait for another day.