Published: 05 May 2022

Conor Elliott tells his story of how he started his lifesaving journey as a Rookie Lifeguard and now hopes to take his NPLQ qualification as soon as he turns 16.

“There are a number of factors that influenced me to get involved with lifesaving. The first was that a member of my family, my cousin James aged 14 years, died in a drowning accident in 2009. He was a strong swimmer and this made our entire family more water safety aware.

Rookie Lifeguard Conor with his Uncle Nial Elliott

Another factor was that my uncle, Nial Elliott who works for the RLSS, told me about the Rookie Lifeguard course and even brought me to see one of the RLSS swimming competitions. He let me know of the Rookie course in a leisure centre near to me and I immediately signed up as I have always loved swimming.

I began the Rookie Lifeguard course when I turned 13 and it took around 26 months to complete all 9 levels; I would have completed it in 18 months if it wasn’t for Covid closing the leisure centres.

Rookie has given me great confidence in my swimming ability and built on my skills. I love the way I get to learn about life saving while keeping fit.

I learnt how to swim quite a distance in clothing, tread water, to coil and throw a rope to a casualty, to rescue a casualty in water in different scenarios, to work within time limits, to quickly assess and put a plan into action, to ensure my own safety while helping others and to treat a casualty after an incident.

Rookie Lifeguard Conor Elliott with his Instructor Daryl

I made some good friendships during Rookie with other participants and I had a fantastic instructor named Daryl who pushed me do my best. I thought he was a great role model and motivator.

I also joined the Order of Malta over 4 years ago where I get to train in all matters of First Aid provision. Since joining the Order of Malta I have learned about and received certificates in First Aid, Cardiac First Response (CFR), and First Aid Responder (FAR). In the Order of Malta I have had the opportunity to partake in events where I can put my knowledge to use; having this knowledge has also helped me in the Rookie course.

I have already spoken to staff in Aura leisure centre Drogheda, where I did my Rookie training and I plan to continue to attend Rookie classes until I turn 16, to keep my skills and fitness up. When I am 16 I hope to do the lifeguard course and work part-time as a lifeguard while I continue my education.

I would definitely like to work in the frontline services in a job such as Garda, Coast guard, Paramedic, Firefighter or nursing. I come from a family of frontline workers and this has helped guide me into wanting to be a frontline worker where I can use the skills that I have learned. I am sitting my Junior Cert in June and in 3 years will sit my Leaving Cert so luckily I have some time to decide which area I will go into.

If anyone was thinking of becoming a Rookie Lifeguard I would advise them to start straight away. I think it should be on the school curriculum as the programme not only teaches so much to ensure individuals own safety in water, but also teaches ways to save others. I would say it is a great way to have fun, challenge yourself and keep fit. When I started I thought I was a great swimmer but in reality I had so much to learn and going through the process of all 9 level has improved my confidence in water.

I can’t wait to do my Lifeguard course and look forward to the road ahead.”

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