By By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Monday, May 21, 2018
Every Monday, I answer questions from swimmers around the country. if you have a question, please email me at email@example.com. I’ll do my best to answer your question in the next issue of Splash Magazine or online at USASwimming.org.
I recently got certified as a lifeguard. I was so excited to be able to swim and make money this summer. Then my swim coach told me what our summer schedule is. It doesn't interfere with our primary practice which is for 2 1/2 hours in the morning, but it does conflict on days we have doubles and on Saturdays. I am not sure if I should turn in my application to this site where I am guaranteed a job, or try and find another place that works with my schedule and will allow me to continue my dream of going all-state. I know I won't remember the days I went to work but I will always remember going all-state.
Swimmer with a Life Conflict
It really depends on why you need this job. If you need this job to pay for important things in your life, like saving for college or paying for necessary expenses, then consider trying to find some creative solution — working different hours, working weekends, or finding a different group to train with at another time. Perhaps train at the pool where you lifeguard.
When I was a lifeguard, I also remember how hard it was to align schedules. Sometimes, I had to miss afternoon practice; that’s just how it worked out for me. Working was an important aspect of my summer. While I do agree with you about your memories and making all-state, I want to point out that working and lifeguarding might also lead to some great memories.
For me, some of my fondest memories are athletic. You’re right. A few summers growing up, I dedicated myself and took a lot of pride in athletic achievement. But working outside of the swim team also allowed me to expand my horizons and get a new taste on life. I grew up in the country, but got a job at a very fancy country club in town. The people I met with were completely different than the people I was used to — and I still remember the experience.
Ironically, having a summer job also made me appreciate the luxury and opportunity that is competitive swimming. With limited time to swim, I just felt so grateful to be able to compete for part of my day. A lot of people don’t have that experience. Working allows you to widen your perspective a little bit and see the wide angle lens of life. At least it did for me, just a little bit more than I would have gotten from only-swimming.
So my advice is, don’t assume that your only good summer memories could come from individual achievement in athletics. I learned as much from swimming as I did from teaching kids how to swim. Experiences are what you make of it, and so if you need to take this job, try to make the best of it, manage your time as best you can, and appreciate your time in the sport when you can do it.
I hope this helps.