Posted on July 16, 2012

Lifeguard at NYC’s Largest Pool Reveals Daily Battle Against Brawling Teenagers ‘Looking for a Fight’

Daily Mail (London), July 15, 2012

One lifeguard at Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Pool is wishing he had self-defence training after his workplace has become a brawling hot-spot for violent teenagers.

Lifeguards at New York City’s largest public pool, which re-opened last month after 28 years and a $50 million revamp, struggle to keep order over gangs of aggressive teenagers.

In an interview with the New York Post, one of the pool’s 30 lifeguards has admitted to running off ‘pure adrenaline’ when a gang of teenagers attacked him and his colleagues just a day after the pool’s opening.

The lifeguard, who remained anonymous, admitted to praying for rain each day to keep the ‘drunk and high’ hordes at bay.
On June 29 kids were doing back-flips into the water, the employee recalled, and when one lifeguard tried to stop them he was shoved into the pool and set upon.

The incident quickly spiralled into a brawl with three lifeguards fighting off about 15 high-school students, he said.

‘We train for rescuing people from drowning or breaking their necks – we don’t train for being jumped by a group of teenagers, or how to defend ourselves in an attack. I was running on pure adrenaline,’ he told the Post.

Police turned up, arrested the alleged perpetrators and closed the pool down for the rest of the day.

Now, on a typical day, 40 police officers surround the pool, offering the lifeguards much needed re-enforcements.

‘It makes me feel safer because, in the end, we’re just people with whistles. Nobody has to listen to us,’ the guard said.

Turning down the offer to be transferred to another pool, the lifeguard reveals that the employees are ‘like a family’ and back each other up as soon as trouble breaks out.

And it often does resulting in at least three people getting kicked out of the pool every day, he says.

It is a matter of sticking together to survive the brawls and abuse, especially as many of the lifeguards are short and only high-school students themselves.

When the weather is good lifeguards can look over more than 75 people cooling off in the 37,950 sq ft pool, which has a 1,500 people capacity.

According to the lifeguard, afternoons are the toughest with desperate-to-impress teenagers turning up ‘looking for a fight’.

And blowing a whistle to get people to stop what they are doing typically ends up with swimmers flipping a finger at you, he testified.

Paid $13.55 an hour, plus overtime, doesn’t only involve the danger of violent brawls, the lifeguard revealed.

If there is any faeces or vomit in the pool the guards must evacuate all swimmers and clean it up.

The pool must be empty for five minutes for faeces and 25 minutes for sick, he said.