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Life of the guards

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bogert lifeguards

Tenley Wade, 16, scans the deep pool at Bogert Pool on Friday, July 2, 2021.

Hours before Bogert Pool opened to splashing, swimming, and screaming guests on Friday, July 2, a small cohort of young lifeguards, some of them just weeks into their first job ever, gathered at the edge of the pool to take part in a time-honored exercise: inservice training. Soon, they themselves were splashing away in the water, occasionally feigning spinal injuries or drownings for the benefit of their peers on the deck, who then jumped in to practice the techniques of the trade.

bogert lifeguards

Eli Stevens, 16, is unable to suppress a laugh after being pulled out of the pool by fellow lifeguards during a training exercise at Bogert Pool on Friday morning, July 2, 2021. Lifeguards often mention a sense comradery among fellow guards after spending so much time working and training together. One guard, Colby Van Housen, said, "I definitely wouldn't like it as much if they weren't as fun to hang around."

bogert lifeguards

Laurelin Bergum, 18, opens an umbrella to shade a lifeguard stand at Bogert Pool before the pool opens on Friday, July 2, 2021.

Bogert Pool, first opened in 1938, has been a summer staple in downtown Bozeman for generations of swimmers and lifeguards alike. Samantha Neely, 17, in her second summer as a guard, recognizes herself in the kids she now watches over. "Its the pool I grew up going to. I learned how to swim here and now I teach swim lessons, it's a full circle."

Patrick Blenker, assistant aquatics manager for the city of Bozeman, said getting the pool open was a challenge this year. Bozeman Parks and Recreation had trouble filling lifeguarding positions, and it was only after it raised the base wage to $15 an hour that it was able to hire enough people to safely operate the pool. "It takes one set of stresses, setting up the season, into another set of stresses, which is hoping these young guards can handle it, and feel good about guarding," Blenker said.

bogert lifeguards

From left, Lead Guard Jeremy McAllister chats with Patrick Blenker, assistant aquatics manager for the City of Bozeman, during open swim at Bogert Pool on Friday, July 2, 2021. Blenker said that although some of the staff may be young, they also have some staff with 10 years of experience. "We definitely balance it out," said Blenker.

bogert lifeguards

Lifeguards at Bogert Pool apply sunscreen in their office and break room on Friday, July 2, 2021.

bogert lifeguards

Tenley Wade, 16, answers the phone while sliding a receipt to a customer at the front desk of Bogert Pool on Friday, July 2, 2021. Lifeguards at the pool wear many hats in between their shifts on the deck, customer service included.

For now though, every Friday morning Blenker leads his new lifeguards in training exercises, sharpening new skills that could make the difference between a really good day and a really bad day.

For Neely the responsibility of saving a life can be a heavy weight, although one that thankfully doesn't come up too often.

"It's an easy job until you have to do your job," she said.

bogert lifeguards

Ruby Hale, 23, scans the shallow pool at Bogert Pool on Friday, July 2, 2021.

bogert lifeguards

Shane Smith, 29, a lead guard and certified pool operator, checks the pH of the pool inside the pump room at Bogert Pool on Friday, July 2, 2021.

bogert lifeguards

Cami Yovich, 16, sprays down the deck at Bogert Pool before open swim on Friday, July 2, 2021.

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