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Where is the 2013 Lifeguard of the Year?

After delivering a presentation at the Missouri Parks & Recreation annual conference, I was thrilled to overhear my co-presenter, colleague, and friend Patrick Magee describe me as “the best in St. Louis at recruiting and retaining staff.” And Pat knows, I hate coming up short.

February is Recruiting Month at BYLG. Our goal this year was to add 10 new lifeguards to our team. At month’s end, we currently stand at nine. As we prepare to announce our 2014 rookies to the world, we have just one bit of unfinished business. His name is Tyler Smith.

In the St. Louis lifeguarding world, Tyler Smith is a rock star. Last year, the super-smart pre-med college junior was chosen as Lifeguard of the Year by his peers at Lifeguards Unlimited, a pool management company that serves several boutique aquatic facilities and municipal water parks and employs over 500 lifeguards. In January I had the distinct pleasure of training Tyler as a Lifeguarding Instructor. He is a strong swimmer with impeccable rescue skills, a warm and open but assertive communication style, and a solid work history and reputation.

We want Tyler Smith. And others like him. With only 36 positions on our team, we can select from the very best in the area. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 3,450 lifeguards employed in Missouri. We want the top 1%.

And we have them. I can tell a story of heroics for each one of the 26 returning lifeguards on our team. The team make-up is impressive, with triathletes and professionals from the fields of aquatics, health and safety, and education. Through lifeguarding, we bring together physical therapists, personal trainers, teachers, coaches, nurses, and first responders. We even have a long-distance swimming national champion, a disaster specialist, and a weapons of mass destruction incident responder. Yeah. A WMD incident responder.

Among the nine rookies are competitive swimmers, swim coaches, and water polo players. Four pool managers and one aquatic supervisor. We have an Eagle Scout, an EMT, and an Ironman. But we don’t have Tyler Smith. We don’t have the 2013 Lifeguard of the Year.

My friend Denise, adopted when she was four years old, once expressed her feelings, “When you are adopted, you know that you are really REALLY wanted.” Tyler, we want you. We really REALLY want you. Come join our water rescue family.

Love, Your bothers and sisters in lifeguarding excellence


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