16 Weirdest Things Lifeguards Have Seen on the Job
Lifeguards have to be keen observers—here are some of the most unusual things these lifesavers have seen on the job.
If Mom was there, this wouldn’t have happened…
“One time, a dad kept tossing his toddler in the air—I mean really high,” Lauren Crain, a PR professional, tells Reader’s Digest about her teenage lifeguarding job. “I kept asking him to stop, but he didn’t listen. Finally, he tossed the kid so high, the kid was able to grab onto a flag-rope strung high above the pool.” The kid was dangling there, while the dad (and everyone else in the pool) laughed. Eventually, the kid let go, and the dad caught him.
Take a stand
“A man in his late 20s was struggling and flailing in the middle of a pool,” former lifeguard Robert Herbstat tells Reader’s Digest. “The thing was, he was in only five feet of water, so I yelled at him to stand up, which he did, sheepishly, in neck-deep water.” These are the water-safety tips adults don’t follow, but should.
“But we don’t wanna be saved”
Another time when Herbst was lifeguarding at an ocean beach, he watched a woman jump on top of a man. It looked like a classic case of a drowning person trying to climb on top of another person to save herself. To save them both (because this scenario often results in both people drowning, Herbst rushed out to where the people were and tried to pry them apart only to discover they were fine—and engaged in deliberate, intimate activity.
The unexpected power of a fib
“One summer I worked on the waterfront staff at a pre-school day camp,” Kaitlin Stewart recalls for Reader’s Digest. “I told the kids they shouldn’t pee-pee in the pool and that I’d put a special dye in the water which would turn the water blue if anyone did. That part was a fib, but next thing I knew, one of the kids started crying hysterically, saying she’d just gone pee-pee.” Terrified the water was going to turn blue, the girl told on herself.
The dreaded Snickers
This trick dates back at least to 1980 when Caddyshack came out: Anne Keiu reported to the website The Richest the sight of an unwrapped Snickers candy bar floating in the pool causes general panic; if a lifeguard plants it, she gets a nice, long break while the maintenance crew cleans out the water.
Hey, you don’t have a pool pass!
Nothing like a rat, mouse, frog, or bird in the pool to gross everyone out, Keiu points out. Unfortunately, while it’s fairly easy to deny a human being entry to a pool, it’s impossible to prevent these interlopers from plopping in—to their detriment (and usually death), seeing as the pool is chock full of chemicals.
Speaking of chemicals, they’re not really good for humans either, at least not when they leaked in large quantities into a swimming pool. But that’s precisely what happened in 2010 at the MGM Grand hotel and casino in Las Vegas, where a chlorine leak at the pool sent 26 guests to the hospital and injured some of the pool staff as well. Ouch.
Kids can be really mean
It’s tough to be a lifeguard what with all the mean kids, according to 26-year-old former lifeguard Martha on the video news platform, Attn: “Kids threw pie at me while I sat in a bathing suit on the Fourth of July. They threw my purse/phone into the pool for kicks.” Even worse? The parents didn’t reimburse her. Don’t miss the water-safety tips lifeguards wish parents knew.
Parents can be pretty mean, themselves
Patrick T. Power/Shutterstock
Yeah, the parents can definitely be part of the problem for lifeguards if Martha’s experiences are any indication. “Parents asked me to babysit their children outside of the pool numerous times,” she points out. And they “yelled at me for telling their kids to walk—and not run—by the pool.”
Here’s another “fun-with-parents” story from Reddit user, MrSnazzyGoose. “A friend of mine got punched in the face by a dad because [the lifeguard] wouldn’t let his daughter go down the slide (she was too short).” Don’t miss these drowning rescue stories. They’ll make you rethink everything you know about water safety.