"[The competition] included all the lifeguards from all the recreation departments in the state and other agencies like college lifeguards and neighborhood lifeguards or country club lifeguards, things like that," said Kristin Strickland, aquatics coordinator for the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department. "So it was a pretty big deal. This is the first year that we've ever competed in it. We've never gone before and so we didn't really know what to expect when we were there.
"And this was done at a lake so a lot of the events were centered around lake rescues, which is something that our lifeguards never have to do because we only have pools in this city. So there were events that they've never even seen the equipment used to make the rescue before and they did really well with it. I think their athleticism and their critical thinking skills and their response time was just great, especially since they were in a situation that they've never been in before. So we're really happy about how they did and just the time that they put in practicing for it and how excited they were to be there."
Divided into two teams, the Cartersville lifeguards that placed seventh were Josh Downer, Shane Walters, Perry Siniard, Zach Naelitz, Heather McCallister and Ashley Merchant. Finishing eighth were Orry Young, Sid McCallister, Adam Brawner, Hunter Myrick, Emily Williams and Kaitlin Kinney.
For Williams, who is serving as a city lifeguard for the third year, the contest challenged her and her teammates in some areas while highlighting their strengths in others.
"I think the most challenging part was probably we had to use rescue boards, which is specifically a tool used for lake rescues and ocean rescues," Williams said. "We're a pool staff, so we had never used those before. And those were a big part of the competition, so we struggled a little bit with that. But I think we did pretty well considering that we had never used them before.
"I was very pleased [with our overall performance]. We had a good time and I thought we did pretty well. We worked together well as a team, which is important. We really excelled in the things that involved physical activity. .... Anything that involved speed [competition] swimming I felt like we really excelled in, because our staff is mostly made up of a lot of high school swimmers."
Proud of her lifeguards' performance, Strickland said the participants did extremely well in areas that pertain to pool safety, such as CPR, backboarding and first aid.
"It just makes you feel good, especially as their boss, to know that what you teach them and what you go over, that they're retaining," Strickland said. "And if we did have something happen here in Cartersville, the parts that they did best on -- CPR, first aid, backboarding -- is the stuff that we want them to know. [Parents] should feel more comfortable coming to the pool knowing that the lifeguards that are lifeguarding for them did so well against other lifeguards -- top 10 in the state."
With this summer's sweltering temperatures, Strickland said they are experiencing a busy swimming season. While the city's 33 lifeguards are in place to watch and respond if situations arise, she emphasizes the need for children to know how to swim prior to visiting the Dellinger Park and Aubrey Street pools.
"We had three rescues over the weekend, which is a little high for us in one weekend," Strickland said. "But we are having quite a bit of rescues actually this season and not just rescues, we're having for some reason a lot of [incidents, like] people becoming dehydrated at the pool. Just the other day, we had a kid have an allergic reaction that we had to get him to the hospital for. So for some reason this season we're having a lot of things happen.
"In front of me I've got an accident report that happened on July 21. So a couple of days ago, a kid jumped off the diving board and he was too tired to hold himself up, so I had a lifeguard come and get him. [It is very important that adults] teach their kids how to swim, watch their kids at the pool. If your kid can't swim, then don't let them go any deeper than what they're comfortable in."
Daily admission to the city pools is $3 for ages 13 to adult, $2 for ages 5 to 12 and no charge for 4 and younger.
The pools' schedules are:
* Dellinger Park at 100 Pine Grove Road: Tuesday through Friday, noon to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
* Aubrey Street at 135 Aubrey St.: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 6 p.m.
For more information, call the Cartersville Parks and Recreation Department at 770-387-5626 or visit www.cityofcartersville.org/index.aspx?NID=22.